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ESSAYS 


ON 


PETRARCH 


BY 


UGO   FOSCOLO. 


IRREQUIETUS    HOMO    PERQUE    OMNES    ANX1US    AVNOS 
AU    MORTEM    FESTINAT    ITER.     MORS    OPTIMA  REKHM. 
PETRAR.    AFRICA    LIB.  VI. 


LONDON 
JOHN    MURRAY 

MPCCCXXIII. 


LONDON 
1'UINTKD    DY    S.   AND    R.   BENTLITY,    DORSET    STREET. 


TO   THE    RIGHT   HONOURABLE 

BARBARINA    LADY    DACRE. 


MADAM, 

I  am  prompted  to  inscribe  these  pages 
with  your  Ladyship's  name  as  well  by  my  own  gratitude, 
as  by  the  opinion  of  those  distinguished  Literary  Cha 
racters,  whose  kind  assistance,  surpassed  only  by  yours,  has 
enabled  me  to  present  my  Essays  to  the  English  reader. 
With  one  voice  and  with  national  pride  they  pronounce, 
that  your  poetry  has  preserved  the  very  spirit  of  Petrarch 
with  a  Jiddity  hardly  to  be  hoped  for,  and  certainlt/ 
unattained  by  any  other  translation.  And  each  of  those 
who  have  contributed  to  this  volume,  resigning  his  portion 
of  my  .acknowledgment,  hopes  the  offering  of  it  may  be 
accepted  by  you  alone. 

I  have  the  honour  to  remain, 

Madam, 
Your  grateful  and  devoted  Servant, 

UGO  FOSCOLO. 

South  Bank,  Regent's  Park, 
January  1823. 


CONTENTS. 


AN  ESSAY  ON  THE  LOVE  OF  PETRARCH. 

ESSAY  ON  THE  POETRY  OF  PETRARCH. 
AN  ESSAY  ON  THE  CHARACTER  OF  PETRARCH. 
A  PARALLEL  BETWEEN  DANTE  AND  PETRARCH. 


APPENDIX. 

I.    SPECIMENS    OF    PETRARCH*S    LATIN    POETRY. 

II.    SPECIMENS    OF    GREEK     AMATORY    POETRY,    FROM    SAPPHO 
DOWN    TO    THE    WRITERS    OF    THE    LOWER    EMPIRE. 

III.  A    THEORY    OF    PLATONIC    LOVE,  BY  LORENZO  DE*  MEDICI. 

IV.  COMPARATIVE    DESCRIPTION  OF  WOMAN'S  BEAUTY  ACCORD 

ING  TO  PLATONIC  IDEAS,  BY  THE  EARLY  ITALIAN  POETS. 

V.  PETRARCH'S  UNPUBLISHED  LETTERS  IN  ITALIAN. 

VI.  A    LETTER,    IN    LATIN,    OF    DANTE's    LATELY    DISCOVERED. 
VII.    TRANSLATIONS     FROM    PETRARCH,     BY     BARBARINA     LADY 

DACRE. 


AN  ESSAY 
ON     THE     LOVE 


OF 


PETRARCH. 


AN    ESSAY 
ON     THE     LOVE 

OF 

PETRARCH. 


FU  FORSE  UN  TEMPO  DOLCE  COSA  AMORE, 
NON  PERCH'  10  SAPPIA  IL  QUANDO. 

P.  ir.  SON.  LXXIII. 


I.  ALTHOUGH  Petrarch  has  contrived  to 
throw  a  beautiful  veil  over  the  figure  of  Love, 
which  the  Grecian  and  Roman  Poets  delighted 
in  representing  naked — it  is  so  transparent  that 
we  can  still  recognize  the  same  forms.  The 
ideal  distinction  between  two  Loves  sprang  at 
first  from  the  different  ceremonies  with  which 
the  ancients  worshipped  the  CELESTIAL  VE 
NUS,  who  presided  over  the  chaste  loves  of 
girls  and  wives;  and  the  TERRESTRIAL  VENUS, 
the  avowed  tutelar  deity  of  the  gallantries  of 
ladies,  who  played  a  distinguished  part  in 
those  times.  In  spite  of  the  mystical  and  po- 


9  ON  THE  LOVE 

litical  allegories  which  ancient  metaphysics 
and  modern  erudition  have  built  on  these  two 
names,  the  popular  distinction  is  constantly 
supported  by  the  poets  when  they  describe 
the  manners  of  their  age,  and  the  worship  of 
the  two  goddesses*.  Whilst  virtuous  women 
lived  in  such  close  retirement,  that  they  never 
appeared  at  banquets,  and  occupied  apart 
ments  separate  from  those  of  the  men, — artists, 
poets,  philosophers,  magistrates,  priests,  and 
all  the  fashionable  world,  held  their  circles  in 
the  houses  of  ladies  who  made  an  avowed  traf 
fic  of  their  charms,  and  lent  their  persons  to 
be  the  models  of  the  statues  with  which  the 
Grecian  temples  were  adorned.  Every  body 
knows  that  Aspasia,  who  governed  Pericles 
and  educated  Alcibiades,  was  a  priestess  of 
the  Terrestrial  Venus.  These  ladies  have  had 
influence  enough  to  place  themselves  under 
the  protection  of  the  Celestial  Venus  also,  by 
propagating  the  belief  that  they  had  only  one 
lover,  and  that  the  sentiments  with  which  they 
inspired  all  others  were  virtuous ;  and  it  was 
the  political  interest  of  their  admirers  them 
selves  to  spread  this  opinion  amongst  the  peo 
ple.  Plato  puts  into  the  mouth  of  Socrates 

*  THEOCRITI  Epigr.  CALLIMACHUS  et  CATULLUS  de  Com,} 
Berenices,  sub  fine.     PROCLUS,  in  Ven.  Hymn.  1.  v.  7.  19. 


OF  PETRARCH.  tf 

every  refinement  of  reasoning,  to  prove  that 
it  is  possible  to  be  devoted  to  a  gallant  woman 
without  desiring  her  favours*. 

II.  WE  may,  however,  probably  consider  all 
that  Plato  makes  his  master  say  as  apocryphal, 
except  when  the  same  things  are  repeated  by 
Xenophon.  These  two  great  writers,  whose 
rivality  amounts  almost  to  enmity,  have  each 
of  them  composed  a  treatise,  under  the  title  of 
THE  BANQUET,  in  which  they  make  Socrates 
discourse  on  Love.  It  is  certain,  therefore, 
that  the  new  application  to  the  ancient  distinc 
tion  between  the  two  goddesses  was  originally 
of  Socrates.  But,  in  the  Banquet  of  Xeno 
phon,  the  object  is  not  to  deceive  the  Athe 
nians,  regarding  the  nature  of  those  conversa 
tions  which  their  great  men  held  with  the 
Aspasias  of  their  time.  Socrates'  discourse 
aims  at  calling  back  to  a  sense  of  shame  those 
of  his  fellow-citizens  who  were  too  passionate 
admirers  of  beauty  in  both  sexes.  "  Beauty," 
he  says,  "  is  illuminated  by  a  light  which  di 
rects  and  invites  me  to  contemplate  the  soul 
which  inhabits  such  a  form ;  and,  if  the  soul 
be  as  beautiful  as  the  body,  it  is  impossible 
not  to  love  it.  But  there  can  be  no  beauty  of 
soul  without  purity ;  and  the  purity  of  those, 

*  PLATO,  IVUTOITK. 


4  ON  THE  LOVE 

whom  I  love  the  most  tenderly,  makes  me 
also  a  good  man.  Thus,  in  proportion  as  the 
object  of  your  attachment  becomes  dear  to 
you,  as  you  discover  new  qualities  in  it,  and 
as  you  find  a  pleasure  in  making  others  admire 
it,  it  is  your  interest  to  preserve  it  pure  from 
stain.  By  corrupting  the  morals,  you  deform 
and  debase  the  soul,  the  perfection  of  which 
you  would  exalt ;  and  this  deformity  extends 
to  the  countenance  also.  I  will  not  assert  that 
there  are  two  Venuses  ;  but,  since  I  see  that 
there  are  temples  consecrated  to  the  Celestial, 
and  others  to  the  Terrestrial  Venus,  and  that 
they  sacrifice  in  the  first  with  ceremonies  more 
scrupulous  and  with  victims  more  pure,  I  pre 
sume  that  the  two  goddesses  do  exist  at  least 
in  their  effects .  The  vulgar  Venus  inflames  the 
passions  tmvards  the  body  ;  the  heavenly  Venus  in 
spires  a  love  towards  the  soul,  and  incites  to  honest 
connexions  and  to  virtuous  actions*.'" 

III.  THE  imagination  of  Plato  has  appa 
rently  seized  upon  these  exhortations  to  exalt 
and  support  an  ingenious  theory  of  Love,  of 

*  Eura'ffcuc  3'  dv  /cai  roi)c  epurai;  rrjv  fitv  Hdvc)tj/u.ov  roiv 
aufj-druv  iirtiTEfnreiV  TTJV  ft  Qvpaviav  rrji  ^v^fjf  re  KOI  rrjs 
(j>i\las  Kcti  TUV  Ka\wv  epyuv. — XENOPHON,  ^v/biiromoi',  sub 
fine. 


OF  PETRARCH.  5 

which  it  will  be  sufficient  to  notice  here  that 
portion  which  constitutes  the  machinery  of 
Petrarch's  poetry  : — "  Our  souls  emanate  from 
God,  and  unto  him  they  return  again.  They 
are  pre-existent  to  our  bodies  in  other  worlds. 
The  most  tender  and  the  most  beautiful  in 
habit  Venus,  the  brightest  and  the 'purest  of 
the  planets,  called  the  third  heaven.  They 
are  more  or  less  perfect,  and  the  most  perfect 
love  those  which  are  most  perfect  also.  They 
are  connected  together  in  pairs  by  a  predes 
tined  and  immutable  sympathy  :  without  par 
taking  of  the  sensual  perturbations  of  the  body, 
they  are  necessitated  to  follow  it  blindly,  led 
by  fatality  or  chance,  for  the  procreation  of 
the  species.  Each  soul  burns  with  the  desire 
to  find  its  companion ;  and,  when  they  do 
meet  together  in  their  pilgrimage  on  earth, 
their  love  becomes  so  much  the  more  ardent, 
because  the  matter  by  which  they  are  enclosed 
prevents  their  re-union.  On  these  occasions 
their  pleasures,  their  sufferings,  their  ecsta 
sies,  are  inexpressible :  each  endeavours  to 
make  itself  known  to  the  other;  a  celestial 
light  burns  in  the  eyes ;  an  immortal  beauty 
beams  in  the  countenance  ;  the  heart  feels  less 
tendency  to  earth,  and  they  mutually  incite 
each  other  to  the  exaltation  and  purification  of 


6  ON  THE  LOVE 

their  virtue.  In  proportion  as  they  love 
other,  they  are  lifted  towards  God,  who  is 
their  common  origin;  and,  in  proportion  as 
they  feel  the  pains  of  their  exile  upon  earth, 
and  their  captivity  in  matter,  they  desire  to  be 
freed,  in  order  that  they  may  unite  eternally 
in  heaven." —  Now,  since  the  whole  system  is 
founded  on  the  hypothesis,  "  that  each  soul 
has  a  predestined  sympathy  towards  one  other 
soul  only'1 — and  since  each  person  imagines, 
"  that  the  being  to  whom  he  is  attached  is  the 
most  perfect,"  it  follows  "  that  every  platonic 
lover  ought  to  strive  always  to  attain  to  the 
highest  degree  of  moral  perfection." 

IV.  THESE  opinions  were  brought  into  Italy 
through  the  means  of  the  ancient  Fathers  of 
the  Church  ;  and  some  of  -the  theologians, 
amongst  others,  Giovanni  da  Fabriano,  who 
died  the  same  year  that  Laura  died,  have  writ 
ten  treatises  to  reconcile  the  doctrines  of  Plato 
with  the  Bible*.  The  friars  turned  them  to 
good  account,  and,  in  citing  the  example  of 
celebrated  poets,  preached  that  the  souls  of 
deceased  ladies  would  be  more  readily  re 
ceived  into  heaven,  if  it  were  appeased  by  the 

*  Fabricius  Med.  et   Inf.  Lat.  torn.  iv.  p.  74. 


OF  PETRARCH.  7 

charities  and  prayers  of  their  lovers. — "  Francis 
Petrarch,  who  is  still  living,"  says  a  Dominican 
preacher,  "  had  a  spiritual  mistress,  to  whom 
he  owes  all  his  glory  :  and,  since  her  death,  he 
has  spent  so  much  in  charities  to  the  church 
for  masses,  that,  if  she  had  lived  as  a  profligate 
woman,  they  would  have  redeemed  her  from 
the  hands  of  the  devil :  but  it  is  said  that  she 
died  devout*."  Thus  philosophy  and  religion 
conspired  with  the  chivalrous  manners  of  the 
times  to  flatter  and  embellish  the  most  irre 
sistible  of  all  human  propensities.  Facility  in 
yielding  to  love  was  the  least  equivocal  mark 
of  a  benevolent  mind  :  constancy,  disinterest 
edness,  and  submission  to  the  sex,  were  the 
most  certain  pledge  of  military  valour  and  of 
heroism :  beautiful  poetry  was  no  proof  of  the 
genius  of  the  poet,  but  of  the  force  of  the  pas- 

*  "  Ma  pur  Messer  Francesco  Petrarca,  che  e  oggi  vivo, 
hebe  un  amante  spirituale  apelata  Laura  :  pero,  poiche  ella 
mori,  gl'  e  stato  piu  fedele  che  mai,  et  ali  data  tanta  fama, 
che  la  sempre  nominata,  e  non  morira  mai.  Et  questo  e 
quanto  al  corpo;  po'  li  ha  fatto  tante  limosine,  et  facte  dire 
tante  Messe  et  Orationi  con  tanta  devotione,  che  s'  ella  fosse 
stata  la  piu  cattiva  femina  del  mondo,  1  'avrebbe  tratta  dalle 
mani  del  Diavolo,  benche  se  raxona,  che  mori  pure  santa." 
— Two  manuscript  copies  of  these  sermons,  bearing  the  date 
and  orthography  of  1372,  are  quoted  by  Tiraboschi,  Storia 
della  Letteratura  Italiana,  vol.  v.  lib.  3. 


ON  THE  LOVE 


sion  by  which  he  was  inspired.  Beauty,  rank, 
the  domestic  virtues,  had  no  merit,  except  as 
they  were  celebrated  by  the  adoration  of  a 
lover  and  the  passion  of  a  poet.  In  the  time 
of  Petrarch,  Agnese  de  Navarre,  Comtesse  de 
Foix,  wrote  some  love-verses  to  Guillaume  de 
Machaut,  a  French  poet:  he  became  jealous, 
and  she  sent  her  own  confessor  to  him,  to 
complain  of  the  injustice  of  his  suspicions, 
and  to  swear  that  she  was  still  faithful  to  him. 
She  required  also  of  her  lover  to  write  and  to 
publish  in  verse  the  history  of  their  love ;  and 
she  preserved  at  the  same  time,  in  the  eyes  of 
her  husband  and  of  the  world,  the  character 
of  a  virtuous  princess*. — The  reputation,  and 
perhaps  the  virtue,  of  the  fair  sex  were  pro 
tected  by  the  Couus  D'AMOUH,  which  were 
held  for  two  ages  throughout  all  France. 
They  were  at  once  the  schools  and  the  tribu 
nals,  where  the  prizes  were  decreed  to  the 
best  poets  and  the  most  faithful  lovers,  where 
problems  of  gallantry  were  solved,  where  pro 
ceedings  were  instituted  and  individuals  con 
demned.  There  the  ladies  officiated  as  judges, 
and  from  them  there  was  no  appeal.  In  spite 
of  the  ridicule  which  attaches  to  such  an 

*  Memoires  de  1'Academie  des  Inscriptions,  vol.  xx.  p.  413. 


OF  PETRARCH.  CJ 

institution,  vanity  and  fashion  made  these 
tribunals  (over  which  princesses  sometimes 
presided,  and  in  which  husbands  were  not 
permitted  to  complain  of  the  indifference  of 
their  wives)  to  be  sought  after  and  feared. 
The  Comtesse  de  Champagne,  daughter  of 
Louis  le  Jeune,  decided  in  her  tribunal,  En 
amour  tout  est  grace ;  et  dans  It  manage  tout  cat 
necessity :  par  consequent  C  amour  ne  peut  pas 
exister  entre  gens  maries.  The  Queen,  to  whom 
an  appeal  was  made  against  such  decisions, 
replied,  A  Dieu  ne  plaise  que  nous  soyons  assez 
osees  pour  contredire  les  arrets  de  la  Comtesse  de 
Champagne*. 

V.  IT  was  in  the  midst  of  France,  in  the 
town  where  these  customs  and  institutions 
were  popular,  and  at  the  epoch  when  the 
Jeux  Floreaux  began  to  be  celebrated  in  honour 
of  the  poets  inspired  by  love — it  was  with 
a  mind  busied  with  the  speculations  which 
ancient  philosophy  had  spread  abroad,  which 
the  poetry  of  Italy  had  already  adorned,  and 
which  religion  had  sanctified — it  was  with  a 
disposition  virtuous  but  restless,  and  impatient 

*  The  DELLA  CRUSCA  Academy  quotes  a  manuscript, 
dated  1408,  bearing  the  title  of  Libra  d'shnure,  where  a  great 
many  of  these  decisions  are  registered. 


1()  ON  THE  LOVE 

for  renown;  with  an  imagination  wandering 
in  quest  of  a  happiness  independent  on  the 
instability  of  fortune,  that  Petrarch,  at  the  age 
of  twenty-three  years,  became  enamoured  of 
Laura,  who  had  then  hardly  completed  her 
nineteenth  year.  Having  met  her  eyes  for 
the  first  time  in  a  church,  he  followed  her  in 
the  street,  still  thinking  of  their  uncommon 
radiancy  and  beauty,  and  gazing  at  a  dis 
tance  at  the  grace  of  her  port,  and  at  her 
hair  falling  in  rich  profusion  of  ringlets  on 
her  neck — 

Erano  i  capei  d'  oro  all'  aura  sparsi, 
Che  in  mille  dolci  nodi  gli  avvolgea; 
E  il  vago  lume  oltre  misura  ardea 

Di  que'  begli  occhi 

Non  era  1'  andar  suo  cosa  mortale, 
Ma  d' angelica  forma. 

Poets,  antiquaries,  and  travellers  of  all  na 
tions,  amongst  others  the  Archbishop  Becca- 
delli,  with  Cardinal  Sadoleto,  and  Cardinal 
Poole,  then  the  legate  of  the  province,  searched 
all  the  spots  in  the  country  without  finding 
out  who  Laura  was,  or  whether  she  had 
ever  existed.  Meanwhile,  innumerable  wri 
ters  published  each  an  account  of  Petrarch 
and  Laura,  which  at  once  augmented  the  stock 
of  fiction  under  the  mask  of  history  and  car- 


OF  PETRARCH.  ]  ] 

ried  away  the  generality  of  readers.  The  abbe 
de  Sade,  towards  the  year  1760,  in  examin 
ing  his  family  archives  at  Avignon,  brought 
to  light  some  old  testaments  and  contracts, 
which,  strengthened  by  many  allusions  in  the 
different  works  of  Petrarch,  led  to  the  con 
clusion  admitted  as  undeniable  even  by  his 
Italian  opponents*  —  "That  Laura  was  the 
daughter  of  Audibert  de  Noves,  and  married 
in  her  eighteenth  year  to  Hugh  de  Sade ;  and 
that  Petrarch  became  acquainted  with  her 
about  two  years  after  her  marriage." — Those 
who  are  still  anxious  to  preserve  the  poet 
from  the  imputation  of  having  sighed  for  the 
wife  of  another,  reject  the  authority  of  docu 
ments  ;  nay,  a  Scotch  critic  f  contends  that  an 
abbreviation,  to  be  found  in  a  Latin  manu 
script,  in  which  Petrarch  says  of  Laura,  Cor 
pus  ejus  crebris  PTBS  exhaustum,  ought  to 
be  interpreted  perturbationibus — and  if  so,  we 
might  imagine  that  the  constitution  of  Laura 
had  sunk  under  frequent  afflictions.  But  the 
more  direct  interpretation  of  PTBS  is  partu- 
bus ;  and  the  words  crebris,  corpus,  exhaustum, 
combine  more  grammatically  and  more  logi- 

*  TIRABOSCHI,  Storia  della  Letteratura  Ital.  vol.  v. 
t  Critical  and  Historical  Essay  on  the  Life  and  Character 
of  Petrarch,  Edinburgh,  1812. 


]  2  ON  THE  LOVE 

cally  with  it,  to  express  that  her  constitution 
was  exhausted  by  frequent  child-bearing.  The 
terms  Mulier  and  Femma,  by  which  her  lover 
continually  designates  her  in  Latin,  instead  of 
Virgo  and  Puella;  and  those  of  Donna  and 
Madonna  in  Italian,  signify  more  properly  a 
married  woman.  Donna  is  also  a  general 
term  ;  and  being  derived  from  Domino,  it  is, 
in  poetry,  an  appellation  of  respect :  but  when 
it  is  opposed  to  Giovine,  or  Vergbie,  or  Don- 
zella,  it  signifies  strictly  a  married  woman, 
and  the  poet  says  of  Laura, 

La  bella  giovinetta  ch'  ora  e  donna. 

VI.  IT  appears  that  in  conversing  with  her 
lover  she  mentioned  with  candour  and  deli 
cacy  the  beauties  of  her  youth,  and  the  curio 
sity  and  envy  they  excited — 

E  quando  io  fui  nel  mio  piu  bello  stato, 
Nell'  eta  mia  piu  verde,  a  te  piu  cara, 
Che  a  dir  e  a  pensar  a  molti  ha  dato. 

Her  painters,  however,  owing  perhaps  to  the 
infancy  of  their  art,  seem  to  have  been  little 
inspired  with  her  beauty.  To  judge  by  Laura's 
early  portraits,  a  polished  forehead,  with  black 
eyes,  contrasted  with  a  fair  complexion  and 
golden  hair,  were  the  only  rare  ornaments  she 


OF  PETRARCH.  13 

had  received  from  nature.  Besides  the  want 
of  harmony  in  their  proportions,  her  features 
betray  the  conceit  and  the  archness  of  a  French 
countenance,  neither  enlivened  with  the  at 
tractive  warmth  of  the  Italians,  nor  the  cheer 
ful  serenity  of  the  English  beauties.  Her 
lover  having  never  exactly  described  her,  af 
fords  to  the  admirers  of  his  poetry  the  pleasure 
of  imagining  Laura  according  to  their  own 
taste,  and  of  estimating  her  personal  endow 
ments  more  by  their  effects,  than  by  a  distinct 
idea  of  their  character.  From  some  touches 
here  and  there  in  the  different  writings  of  Pe 
trarch,  it  appears  that  her  figure  was  less  em 
bellished  with  regularity  and  dignity,  than 
with  a  graceful  elegance.  Her  more  powerful 
charms  were  derived  from  her  sighs  and  her 
smiles,  from  the  melody  of  her  voice,  from  the 
sweet  eloquence  of  her  eyes — 

Chi  gli  occhi  di  costei  giammai  non  vide, 
Come  soavemente  ella  gli  gira! 

and  above  all,  from  the  natural  mobility  of  her 
countenance,  on  which  the  mystery  of  an  habi 
tual  thoughtfulness  was  increased  by  the  sud 
den  succession  of  animation  and  paleness ; 

E  il  viso  di  pietosi  color'  farsi, 
Non  so  se  vero,  o  falso,  mi  parea. 


]4  ON  THE  LOVE 

Petrarch's  person,  if  we  trust  to  his  biogra 
phers,  "  was  so  striking  with  beauties,  as  to 
attract  universal  admiration."  They  represent 
him  "  with  large  and  manly  features,  eyes  full 
of  fire,  a  blooming  complexion,  and  a  counte 
nance  that  bespoke  all  the  genius  and  fancy 
that  shone  forth  in  his  works*."  Possibly  Pe 
trarch  was  not  over  vain  of  his  exterior  endow 
ments  ;  though  it  does  not  appear  that  modesty 
had  ever  interfered  with  his  self-appreciation. 
"  Without  being  uncommonly  handsome,"  says 
he,  in  the  Letter  to  Posterity,  "  my  person  had 
something  agreeable  in  it  in  my  youthf.  My 
complexion  was  a  clear  and  lively  brown ;  my 
eyes  were  animated ;  my  hair  had  grown  gray 
before  twenty-five,  and  I  consoled  myself  for 
a  defect  which  I  shared  in  common  with  many 
of  the  great  men  of  antiquity — for  Ca?sar  and 
Virgil  were  gray-headed  in  youth;  and  J  had 
a  venerable  air,  which  I  was  by  no  means  very 
proud  of  J."  He  then  was  miserable  if  a  lock 
of  his  hair  was  out  of  order;  he  was  studi- 

*  DE  SADE,  Memoires,  vol.  i. — MRS.  DOBSON'S  Life  of 
Petrarch.  ^ 

t  Fornid  non  glorior  cxcellenti,  sal  qux  plucere  viridiorilnm 
annis  posxet.  Ad  Post. 

J  Senil.  L.  v.  Ep.  3.  Claris  comitibus  me  solabar. 


\ 

OF  PETRARCH.  15 

ous  of  ornamenting  his  person  with  the  nicest 
clothes ;  and  to  give  a  graceful  form  to  his 
feet,  he  pinched  them  in  shoes  that  put  his 
nerves  and  sinews  to  the  rack  *. 

VII.  His  youthful  propensities  to  love  were 
cherished  by  a  too  early  belief  that  fortune, 
fame,  and  the  world,  are  unworthy  friends  ; 
and  that  he  could  not  find  happiness  but  in 
the  interchange  of  warm  and  generous  feelings 
with  very  few  persons  ; 

Ne  del  mondo  mi  cal,  ne  di  fortuna  ; 
Ne  di  me  molto  :  ne  di  cosa  vile : 
Ne  dentro  sento,  ne  di  fuor  gran  caldo. 

Sol  due  persone  io  chieggio. 

He  was  bom  in  the  year  1304,  at  Arezzo,  while 
his  family  was  in  banishment  from  Florence, 
having  forfeited  its  property  by  the  violence  of 
a  victorious  faction,  backed  by  the  dark  pro 
cess  of  an  inquisitorial  tribunal.  His  parents 
sought  refuge  at  Avignon,  in  the  hope  of  pro 
viding  for  their  children  in  the  court  of  the 
Pope.  Petrarch  lost  them  both  in  his  twenty- 
second  year;  and  being  no  longer  bound  to 

*  Variarum  Ep.  28. 


]  fj  ON  THE  LOVE 

study  for  their  support,  he  abandoned  all  legal 
pursuit,  and  the  trade 

Di  vender  parolette,  anzi  menzogne. 

His  soul  revolted  at  the  idea  of  acquiring  a 
science  which  would  have  reduced  him  to  the 
dilemma,  "  either  of  becoming  a  rich  rogue,  or 
of  being  laughed  at  by  the  world  for  an  honest 
madman,  who  had  conceived  the  vain  project 
of  reconciling  law,  fortune,  and  conscience  *." 
The  young  man,  therefore,  had  recourse  to  the 
priestly  habit,  exposing  however  the  profligacy 
of  the  ministers  of  God;  despising  preferment 
in  a  church  so  polluted  ;  lamenting  and  groan 
ing  that  he  had  no  country  but  the  land  of  his 
exile — 

Dal  di  ch'  io  nacqui  in  su  la  riva'd'Arno, 
Cercando  or  questa  ed  or  quell'  altra  parte, 
Non  e  stata  mia  vita  altro  che  affannof. 

Being  at  once  very  poor  and  high-minded,  the 
distressing  conviction  of  the  sudden  reverses, 
of  the  humiliating  and  often  useless  cares,  and 

*  Epist.  ad  Post. 

t  And  in  his  early  Latin  Poetry, 

Exul  ab  Italia  furiis  civilibus  actus, 

Hue  subii,  partimque  volens,  partimque  coactus. 

Hie  nemus,  hie  amnes,  hie  otia  ruris  amceni : 

Sed  fidi  comites  absunt,  vultusque  sereni. 

Hoc  juvat,  hoc  crucial.  Carm.  Lib.  i.   Epist.  6. 


OF  PETRARCH. 

of  the  final  vanity  of  human  life,  carried  him 
away  through  ideal  worlds,  exclaiming  at  the 
same  time  "  that  this  also  was  vanity  and  vex 
ation  of  spirit."  To  muse  and  prey  upon  his 
illusions  and  feelings  constituted  his  earliest, 
as  well  as  his  latest  perpetual  occupation — 

The  neighbours  stared  and  sigh'd,  yet  bless'd  the  lad : 
Some  deem'd  him  wondrous  wise,  and  some  believed  him  mad. 

For  in  his  youth  Petrarch  mistrusted  his  own 
powers ;  and  felt  himself  so  dismayed  by  the 
immensity,  the  uncertainty,  and  the  insuffi 
ciency  of  all  human  knowledge,  that  he  was  on 
the  point  of  abandoning  letters  for  ever,  and 
implored  the  advice  of  a  friend  more  advanced 
in  years  :  "  Shall  I  quit  study  ?  shall  I  enter 
into  another  course  ?  Have  pity  on  me,  my 
father." — A  few  months  after  the  date  of  his 
letter  began  his  acquaintance  with  Laura. 
"  Why  wonder,"  says  he,  "  at  a  sudden  con 
flagration,  when  fuel  needs  only  the  spark  ?"- 

Io  che  1'esca  amorosa  al  petto  avea, 
Qual  meraviglia  se  di  subit'  arsi  ? 

The  collection  of  his  verses,  compared  with 
his  correspondence,  and  such  of  his  writings  as 
he  did  not  intend  should  become  public,  af 
fords  the  progressive  interest  of  a  narrative,  in 
c 


18 


ON  THE  LOVE 


which  we  always  identify  the  poet  and  the 
man  :  for  he  was  careful  in  arranging  his  pieces 
according  to  the  order  of  time;  and  often  al 
ludes  to  the  occasion  which  gave  them  birth. 
Indeed  many  of  the  circumstances  are  so  tri 
fling  in  themselves,  and  poetical  ornaments 
are  so  skilfully  employed  to  conceal  domestic 
events,  that  they  hardly  arrest  the  attention  of 
readers  warmed  by  the  ardour  of  the  senti 
ments,  dazzled  by  the  brilliancy  of  the  images, 
astonished  by  the  elevation  of  the  conceptions, 
and  led  on  by  the  variety  and  melody  of  the 
versification. 

VIII.  AT  first  Petrarch  saw  in  Laura  only 
the  most  beautiful  of  women ;  one  whom  he 
was  destined  to  love,  and  who  inspired  and 
ennobled  his  talents  :  he  coveted  glory  only  as 
it  might  secure  her  esteem  and  affection,  and 
he  hoped  to  have  found  happiness  on  earth*. 
He  next  discovered  in  her  the  form  and  the 
virtue  of  an  angel — that  his  love  burnt  only  to 

*  In  his  Dialogues  with  St.  Augustin,  a  book  in  which  he  has 
poured  out  all  his  feelings,  and  which  he  entitled  The  Secret 
Conflict  of  his  Cares,  he  confesses  that  he  was  more  ardent  in 
his  desire  of  the  Laurel  Crown,  on  account  of  its  affinity  to 
the  name  of  Laura. — Petrarchae  Operum  vol.  1.  pag.  403. 
Edit.  Basil.  1581. 


OF  PETRARCH.  19 

enlighten  and  purify  his  heart ;  to  fix  his  mind  ; 
to  harmonize  those  faculties,  which  would 
otherwise  have  been  a  prey  to  perpetual  per 
turbation  ;  to  lift  his  desires  and  thoughts  to 
wards  heaven :  and  that  he  might  raise  her 
above  every  earthly  idea,  he  never  explicitly 
mentions  that  she  was  bound  to  partake  the 
bed  of  another.  At  last,  however,  he  felt  and 
confessed  "  that  she  was  a  woman ;  that  he 
doated  upon  her  form ;  that  she  was  the  only 
one  who  had  ever  appeared  a  woman  in  his 
eyes ; " 

Chiare,  fresche,  dolci  acque 

Ove  le  belle  membra 

Pose  colei  che  sola  a  me  par  Donna ; 

and  he  was  burning  "  with  envy,  jealousy, 
and  love"- 

D'  amor,  di  gelosia,  d'  invidia  ardendo. 

He  envied  Pigmalion,  "  who  could  animate 
with  soul  and  love  the  statue  made  by  his  own 
hands."  But  at  the  same  time  he  seems  not 
unaware  that  the  fairest  portion  of  his  life  was 
wasted  in  the  superstitious  worship  of  a  Deity, 
which  possibly  deserved  to  be  cast  down  upon 
the  earth,  whence  his  fatal  fancy  had  raised  it. 
He  calls  "  the  loftiness  of  Laura,  pride ;  and 

c   2 


20  ON  THE  LOVE 

her  aversion  to  every  sort  of  baseness,  affec 
tation  and  prudery" — 

Ed  in  donna  amorosa  ancor  m'aggrada 
Che'n  vista  vada  altera,  e  disdegnosa  ; 
Non  superba,  o  ritrosa  : 
Amor  regge  suo  imperio  senza  spada. 

The  illusions  of  a  pure  passion  are  succeeded 
by  the  desires  of  an  impatient  love,  which 
escape,  in  expressions  and  lines  too  plain  to  be 
quoted,  and  which  are  not  ordinarily  observed, 
because  Petrarch  is  traditionally  read  with  sen 
timental  prepossession.  He  was  admitted  but 
rarely  into  the  house  of  Laura,  and  not  till 
several  years  after  their  first  meeting.  "  I 
grow  old,''  says  he,  "  and  she  grows  old  :  I 
begin  to  despond;  and  yet  it  appears  to  me 
that  time  wears  away  slowly,  till  we  may  be 
permitted  to  be  together  without  the  fear  that 
we  should  be  lost"- 

Ma  sia  che  puo ;  gia  solo  io  non  invecchio. 

IX.  HE  now  and  then  insinuates  that  he  was 
justified  in  entertaining  expectations  which 
were  often  flattered  and  always  disappointed — 

E  mi  conforta,  e  dice  che  non  fue 

Mai  come  or  presso  a  quel  ch'  io  bramo  e  spero : 

Io  che  talor  menzogna,  e  talor  vero 
Ho  ritrovato  le  parole  sue 
Non  so  s'il  creda,  e  vivomi  intra  due. 


OF  PETRARCH.  OJ 

Yet  even  from  these  passages  it  is  not  easy  to 
determine  what  were  Laura's  real  feelings : 
and  it  would  seem  that  his  own  ardent  wishes 
induced  him  to  infer  from  some  designed  or 
tender  expression  of  the  eye,  a  promise  which, 
however,  never  escaped  her  lips  — 

Let  sailors  gaze  on  stars  and  moon  so  freshly  shining, 
Let  them  that  miss  the  way  be  guided  by  the  light: 

I  know  my  Lady's  smile,  there  needs  no  more  divining; 
Affection  sees  in  dark,  and  Love  has  eyes  by  night. 

OLD  POEMS. 

One  of  his  sonnets  might  serve  well  for  an 
artist  to  represent  Petrarch  and  Laura  at  the 
moment  that  he  is  taking  leave  of  her  for  a 
long  time.  Her  countenance  is  obscured  by 
her  usual  veil ;  and  modesty  and  elevation  of 
mind,  tenderness,  melancholy,  mystery,  and 
coquetry,  are  so  interwoven,  as  not  to  leave 
very  discernible  the  real  state  of  her  heart — 
whilst  upon  the  countenance  of  her  lover  pre 
dominate  the  ecstasy  of  passion,  and  the  in 
tensity  of  the  illusion,  by  which  he  thinks  he 
reads  clearly  in  the  eyes  of  Laura,  sentiments 
invisible  to  all  around — 

Quel  vago  impallidir  che'l  dolce  riso 
D'un  amorosa  nebbia  ricoverse, 
Con  tanta  maestade  al  cor  s'offerse 
Che  gli  si  fece  incontro  a  mezzo '1  viso. 
c  3 


ON  THE  LOVE 


llSO 


Conobbi  allor ;  si  come  in  paradi 
Vede  1'  un  1'  altro  ;  in  tal  guisa  s'  aperse 
Quel  pietoso  pensier  ch'  altri  non  scerse  ; 
3/«  vidil'  io,  ch'  altrove  non  m'  affiso. 

Ogni  angelica  vista,  ogni  atto  umile 
Che  giammai  in  donna,  ov'  amor  fosse,  apparve, 
Fora  uno  sdegno  a  lato  a  quel  ch'  i'  dico. 

Chinava  a  terra  il  bel  guardo  gentile ; 
E  tacendo  dicea,  com'  a  me  parve, 
Chi  m'allontana  il  mio  fedele  amico  ? 

A  tender  paleness  stealing  o'er  her  cheek 
Veil'd  her  sweet  smile  as  'twere  a  passing  cloud, 
And  such  pure  dignity  of  love  avow'd 
That  in  my  eyes  my  full  soul  strove  to  speak  : 

Then  knew  I  how  the  spirits  of  the  blest 
Communion  hold  in  heaven  ;   so  beam'd  serene 
That  pitying  thought,  by  etfry  eye  unseen 
Sate  mine,  wont  ever  on  her  charms  to  rest. 

Each  grace  angelic,  each  meek  glance  humane, 
That  love  e'er  to  his  fairest  votaries  lent, 
By  tin's  were  deem'd  ungentle  cold  disdain ! 

Her  lovely  looks  with  sadness  downward  bent, 
In  silence  to  my  fancy  seem'd  to  say, 
Who  calls  my  faithful  friend  so  far  away? — LADY  DACRE. 

The  impatience  of  seeing  Laura  exaggerated  to 
his  fancy  the  distress  in  which  he  had  aban 
doned  her ;  but  he  had  hardly  returned,  when 
he  again  met  with  the  same  cold  reception, 
which  compelled  him  to  groan,  to  fret,  to  fear 


OF  PETRARCH.  -J3 

the  contempt  of  the  world* — to  depart  once 
more,  and  to  conceal  the  humiliation  and  ago 
nies  of  his  unrewarded  love  in  the  hermitage  of 
Vaucluse : 

Solo  e  pensoso  i  piu  deserti  campi 
Vo  misurando  a  passi  tardi  e  lend — 
Altro  schermo  non  trovo  che  mi  scampi 
Dal  manifesto  accorger  delle  genti. 


X.  THAT  it  is  possible  to  give  a  loose  to  the 
imagination,  without  alluring  the  mind  into  a 
labyrinth  of  errors  and  sorrows,  is  a  position 
frequently  maintained  from  the  example  of 
Petrarch  and  Laura,  by  those  who  have  not  as 
yet  made  the  experiment  upon  themselves  ; 
and  by  those  who  wish  to  drive  others  out 
of  the  asylum  either  of  tranquillity  or  of  inno 
cence — intending  perhaps  to  teach  them  that 
virtue  ought  to  be  acquired  by  the  sacrifice  of 
our  dearest  inclinations — or,  which  is  more 
often  the  case,  with  a  tardy  and  everlasting 
repentance — 

Shall  we  desire  to  raise  the  sanctuary, 
And  pitch  our  evils  there  ? 

The  notion,    however,    that   Laura  had  not 

*  Jam  DUO  LUSTRA  gravem,  fessa  cervice,  catenam 

Pertuleram  INDIONANS.     Petrar.  Carm.  Lib.  1.  Ep.  12. 


24  ON  THE  LOVE 

been  always  inexorable  is  equally  popular, 
especially  with  that  portion  which  is  at  once 
the  less  courted  and  the  more  alarmed  of  the 
fair  sex.  It  has  its  foundation  upon  those 
romantic  traditions  also  which  poets  and  tra 
vellers  are  eager  to  adopt.  The  inhabitants  of 
the  neighbourhood  of  Vaucluse  point  out  the 
height  where  Laura's  chateau  was  situated,  from 
which  she  could  converse  with  her  lover  by 
signals.  The  abbe  Delille  discovers  the  very 
grotto  which  afforded  a  secret  retreat,  and  the 
tree  which  lent  its  shade  to  this  happy  couple  : 

Une  grotte  ecartee  avait  frappe  rues  yeux : 
Grotte  sombre,  dis-moi,  si  tu  les  vis  heureux  ? 
M'ecria-je !     Un  vieux  tronc  bordoit-il  le  rivage  ? 
Laure  avait  repose  sur  son  antique  ombrage. — 

JARDINS,  Chant  3. 

A  lady  goes  still  farther  than  the  abbe : 

Dans  cet  antre  profond,  ou,  sans  d'autre  temoins, 

Laure  sut  par  de  tendre  soins 

De  1'amoureux  Petrarque  adoucir  le  martyre ; 

Dans  cet  antre  ou  1'amour  tant  de  fois  fut  vainqueur — 

II  exprima  si  bien  sa  peine,  son  ardeur, 

Que  Laure  malgre  sa  rigueur, 

L'ecouta,  plaignit  sa  langueur, 

Et  fit  peut-c-tre  plus  encore.* 

*  MADAME  DESHOULIERES,  Epitre  sur  Vaucluse. 


OF  PETRARCH.  25 

Petrarch's  own  confession  will  never  set  this 
old  question  at  rest.  But  as  to  meeting  Laura 
at  Vaucluse,  he  retired  there,  "  in  the  hope," 
as  he  says,  "  to  extinguish  by  solitude  and 
study  the  flame  which  was  consuming  me. 
Unfortunate  wretch!  the  remedy  served  only  to 
exasperate  the  disease.  My  meditations  were 
about  her  alone  whom  I  wished  to  avoid*." — In 
another  letter  from  Vaucluse  he  writes  :  "  Here 
my  eyes,  which  have  dwelt  too  much  on  beauty 
at  Avignon,  can  perceive  nothing  but  the  hea 
vens,  the  rocks,  and  the  waters.  Here  I  am 
at  variance  with  all  my  senses.  Melodious 
words  no  longer  delight  my  ears — I  hear  no 
thing  but  the  lowing  of  cattle.  On  one  side 
are  the  birds  warbling — on  the  other  are  the 
waters  roaring  or  murmuring.  Nothing  can  be 
more  agreeable — nothing  more  uncommon  than 
my  two  gardens.  I  am  angry  that  there  should 
be  any  thing  like  them  out  of  Italy.  But  the 
vicinity  of  Avignon  poisons  all  f  !"  "  When  I 
think  of  her — and  when  is  it  that  I  do  not  think 
of  her ! — I  look  around  my  solitude,  my  eyes 
bathed,  in  tears. — I  feel  that  I  am  one  of  those 
unfortunate  beings  whose  passion  can  feed  on 
memory  alone,  who  has  no  consolation  but  his 
tears  ;  but  who  still  desires  to  weep  alone — 

*  Epist.  Famil.  Lib.  8.  Ep.  3.  f  Ib.  Lib.  22.  Ep.  8. 


26  ON  THE  LOVE 

Amor  col  rimembrar  sol  mi  mantiene — 
Ed  io  son  di  quei  che  il  pianger  giova — 

Ed  io  desio, 
Che  le  lagrime  mie  si  spargan  sole. 

XL  THE  house  of  Petrarch  has  disappeared  ; 
nor  can  his  frequent  descriptions  help  antiqua 
rians  to  discover  the  site  of  his  gardens*;  but 
the  valley  of  Vaucluse  is  one  of  those  works  of 
nature,  which  five  centuries  have  been  unable 
to  disturb.  On  leaving  Avignon  the  eye  of  the 
traveller  reposes  on  an  expanse  of  beautiful 
meadow  till  he  arrives  on  a  plain  varied  by 
numerous  vineyards.  At  a  short  distance  the 
hills  begin  to  ascend,  covered  with  trees,  which 
are  reflected  on  the  Sorga,  the  waters  of  which 
are  so  limpid,  their  course  so  rapid,  and  their 
sounds  so  soft,  that  the  poet  describes  them 
truly  when  he  says,  "  that  they  are  liquid 
crystal,  the  murmurs  of  which  mingle  with 
the  songs  of  birds  to  fill  the  air  with  harmony." 
Its  banks  are  covered  with  aquatic  plants,  and 
in  those  places  where  the  falls  or  the  rapidity 
of  the  current  prevent  their  being  distinguish 
ed,  it  seems  to  roll  over  a  bed  of  green  mar 
ble.  Nearer  the  source,  the  soil  is  sterile  ; 
and  as  the  channel  grows  narrow,  the  waves 
break  against  the  rocks,  and  roll  in  a  torrent 

*  See  Appendix,   No.  I. 


OF  PETRARCH.  9? 

of  foam  and  spray,  glittering  with  the  reflec 
tion  of  the  prismatic  colours.  On  advancing 
still  farther  up  the  river,  the  traveller  finds  him 
self  inclosed  in  a  semicircular  recess,  formed 
by  rocks  inaccessible  on  the  right,  and  abrupt 
and  precipitous  on  the  left,  rising  into  obelisks, 
pyramids,  and  every  fantastic  shape,  and  from 
the  midst  of  them  a  thousand  rivulets  descend. 
The  valley  is  terminated  by  a  mountain,  per 
pendicularly  scarped  from  the  top  to  the  bot 
tom,  and  through  a  natural  porch  of  concen 
tric  arches,  he  enters  a  vast  cavern,  the  silence 
and  darkness  of  which  are  interrupted  only  by 
the  murmuring  and  the  sparkling  of  the  waters 
in  a  basin,  which  forms  the  principal  source 
of  the  Sorga.  This  basin,  the  depth  of  which 
has  never  yet  been  fathomed,  overflows  in  the 
spring,  and  it  then  sends  forth  its  waters,  with 
such  an  impetuosity  as  to  force  them  through 
a  fissure  in  the  top  of  the  cavern,  at  an  eleva 
tion  of  nearly  a  hundred  feet  on  the  mountain, 
whence  they  gradually  precipitate  themselves 
from  height  to  height  in  cascades,  sometimes 
shewing,  and  sometimes  concealing,  in  their 
foam  the  huge  masses  of  rock  which  they 
hurry  along.  The  roar  of  the  torrents  never 
ceases  during  the  long  rains,  while  it  seems  as 
if  the  rocks  themselves  were  dissolved  away, 


28  ON  THE  LOVE 

and  the  thunder  re-echoed  from  cavern  to  ca 
vern.  The  awful  solemnity  of  this  spectacle 
is  varied  by  the  rays  of  the  sun,  \yhich  towards 
evening  particularly  refracts  and  reflects  its 
various  tints  on  the  cascades.  After  the  dog- 
days  the  rocks  become  arid  and  black,  the 
basin  resumes  its  level,  and  the  valley  returns 
to  a  profound  stillness. 

XII.  SOLITUDE,  which  leads  impassioned 
minds  to  dream  over  all  the  excesses  of  sorrow 
and  joy,  only  increased  the  disturbed  thoughts 
of  Petrarch.  The  picturesque  beauty  of  the 
scenery  and  the  tranquillity  of  a  heremitic  life 
charmed  his  eyes,  and  elevated  his  mind  to 
wards  heaven, 

Qui  non  palazzi,  non  teatro,  o  loggia, 
Ma  in  lor  vece  un  abete,  un  faggio,  un  pino, 
Fra  1'  erba  verde,  e  il  bel  monte  vicino ; 
Levan  da  terra  al  ciel  nostro  intelletto — 

But  he  adds, 

E  il  rosignuol  che  dolcemente  all'  ombra 
Tutte  le  notti  si  lamenta  e  piange 
D'anrjrosi  pensieri  il  cor  m' ingombra. 

The  birds,  the  flowers,  the  fountains,  and  every 
object  that  he  thought  destined  by  nature  to 
be  happy,  "  conversed  with  him  of  love." 


OF  PETRARCH.  29 

L'acque  parlan  d'amore,  e  1'aura,  e  i  rami, 
E  gli  augeletti,  e  i  pesci,  e  i  fiorij  e  1'erba; 
Tutti  insieme  pregando  ch'io  sempr'arai. 

Whenever  he  endeavoured  to  fix  his  thoughts 
to  the  contemplation  of  the  real  condition  of 
his  life,  his  sorrow  became  only  more  intense: 

Io  vo  pensando,  e  nel  pensier  m'assale 
Una  pieta  si  forte  di  me  stesso. 

"  My  imagination  leads  me  from  dream  to 
dream — from  mountain  to  mountain.  I  hate 
every  spot  that  is  inhabited  by  man ;  it  is  only 
by  engraving  on  the  rocks,  and  in  exhausting 
myself  by  fatigue, — it  is  only  in  the  obscurity 
of  the  forest  that  I  can  find  a  moment  of  re 
pose.  At  every  step  my  thoughts  fluctuate 
between  hope  and  despair,  and  I  should  be 
come  a  prey  to  uncertainty  if  ever  1  became 
happy — but  how,  and  when?" 

Di  pensier  in  pensier;  di  raonte  in  monte 

Mi  guida  Amor  — 

Per  alti  monti  e  per  selve  aspre  trovo 

Qualche  riposo ;  ogni  abitato  loco 

E  nemico  mortal  degli  occhi  miei ; 

Ad  ogni  passo  nasce  un  pensier  nuovo 

Delia  mia  donna;  che  sovente  in  gioco 

Gira  il  tormento — 

Or  potrebb' esser  vero?  or  come?  or  quando? 


V 


fJO  ON  THE  LOVE 

"  I  shall  not  be  believed,  yet  what  I  relate  has 
frequently  happened.  Often  in  retired  spots, 
when  I  fancied  myself  alone,  I  have  seen  her 
appear  from  the  trunk  of  a  tree,  from  the 
mouth  of  a  cavern,  from  a  cloud,  from  I  know 
not  where — fear  fixed  me  to  the  spot — I 
knew  not  what  became  of  me,  nor  where  to 
go*."  At  other  times  the  same  illusion  would 
delight  him  even  to  ecstasy ;  and  he  would 
fancy  himself  amidst  the  eternal  joys  of  para 
dise,  when  in  his  imagination  his  eyes  met  the 
eyes  of  Laura,  and  he  saw  them  brighten  with 
a  smile  of  love — a  situation  which  he  has  de 
scribed  in  three  lines  which  no  translation 
can  render,  and  to  which  no  criticism  can  do 
justice  : 

Pace  tranquilla,  senza  alcuno  affanno, 
Simile  a  quella  ch'  e  nel  cielo  eterna, 
Move  dal  loro  innamorato  riso. 

In  one  of  those  moments  of  beatific  entrance- 
ment,  he  sees  Laura  rise  from  the  clear  waters 
of  the  Sorga,  repose  on  its  banks,  or  walk  on 
its  waves.  "  I  see  her  every  where  and  always 
lovely,  so  that,  if  I  could  perpetuate  this  sweet 
delusion,  I  should  seek  no  other  happiness  on 
earth." 

*  Carminum  Lib.  7.  Ep.  7. 


OF  PETRARCH.  3  [ 

Or  in  forma  di  Ninfa  or  d'altra  Diva 
Che  dal  piu  chiai'O  fondo  di  Sorga  esca 
E  pongasi  a  sedere  in  su  la  riva; 

Or  1'ho  vcduta  su  per  1'erba  fresca 
Calcare  i  fior  come  una  donna  viva — 

In  tante  parti  e  si  bella  la  veggio 
Che  se  Terror  durasse  altro  non  chieggio — 

But  the  night  dissipated  these  visions  : 

When  night  has  closed  around, 

Yet  has  the  wanderer  found 
A  short  but  deep  forgetfulness  at  last 
Of  every  woe,  and  every  labour  past. 
But  ah !  my  grief,  that  with  each  moment  grows, 

As  fast  and  yet  more  fast 
Day  urges  on,  is  heaviest  at  its  close  *. 

As  soon  as  his  imagination  was  surrounded  by 
silence  and  darkness,  the  very  object  which  it 
had  delighted  to  decorate  and  adorn  during 
the  day,  was  clothed  with  terror,  and  he  fre 
quently  saw  Laura  during  the  night,  and  his 
limbs  were  chilled  with  fear.  "  I  arose,  trem 
bling,  with  the  earliest  dawn  to  quit  a  house 
where  every  thing  inspired  me  with  terror.  I 
climbed  the  heights,  I  trod  the  woods,  looking 

*  MERIVALE'S  translation  of  a  Canzone  of  Petrarch,  the 
whole  of  which  is  a  description  of  his  habitual  melancholy 
after  sunset. — Part  1.  Can.  5. — See  Lady  DACKE'S  translation 
in  the  APPENDIX. 


32  ON  THE  LOVE 

on  every  side  to  see  if  the  image  which  had 
disturbed  my  repose  followed  my  steps:  I 
could  feel  myself  no  where  in  safety*/' — This 
is  a  passage  from  one  of  his  Latin  works  ;  and 
when  he  expresses  the  same  in  Italian,  a  single 
line  is  sufficient  to  touch  the  feelings  of  every 
reader,  who  has  experienced  violent  passions 
in  solitude, 

Tal  paura  ho  di  ritrovarmi  solo ! 

XIII.  THE  need  of  consolation  forced  him 
to  seek  refuge  even  among  those  persons  whom 
he  despised, 

II  vulgo  a  me  nemico,  ed  odioso, 

Chi  '1  crederia  ?  per  mio  refugio  chero  ! 

and  love  carried  him  away  to  Avignon  only 
that  he  might  go  back  again  suddenly  to  Vau- 
cluse.  He  left  France  and  returned  after  a 
few  months.  He  undertook  distant  journeys, 
and  endeavoured  to  forget  Laura  by  long  ab 
sence  ;  and  during  these  fits  of  indignation  and 
shame,  he  thought  that  a  less  platonic  attach 
ment  might  put  an  end  to  the  servitude  in 
which  his  mind  was  held.  "  It  was  no  more 

*  Carminum  Lib.  2.  Epist.  7. 


OF  PETRARCH.  33 

to  be  hoped  that  I  could  be  delivered  by  mere 
chance*."  He  had  then  a  natural  son,  and, 
after  some  years,  a  daughter ;  but  he  pro 
tested,  that  in  spite  of  these  irregularities,  he 
never  loved  any  one  but  Laura.  "  I  always 
felt,"  says  he,  "  the  unworthiness  of  my  in 
clinations,  and  at  my  fortieth  year,  retain  them 
no  more  than  if  I  had  never  seen  any  other 
woman ;  sane  and  robust,  in  the  warmth  and 
vigour  of  life,  I  have  subdued  so  shameful  a 
necessity  t."  Even  towards  this  period,  which 
was  nearly  that  of  the  death  of  Laura,  neither 
the  example  of  her  virtue,  nor  his  strong  doubts 
of  her  being  a  heartless  prude,  were  sufficient 
to  heal  his  wound ;  and  he  opened  his  bleeding 
breast  to  his  most  intimate  friends  :  "  The  day 
may  perhaps  come,  when  I  shall  have  calmness 
enough  to  contemplate  all  the  misery  of  my 
soul,  to  examine  my  passion,  not  however  that 
I  may  continue  to  love  her,  but  that  I  may  love 
thee  alone,  O  my  God  !  But  at  this  day,  how 
many  dangers  have  I  yet  to  surmount,  how 
many  efforts  have  I  yet  to  make  ;  I  no  longer 
love  as  1  did  love,  but  still  I  love ;  I  love  in 

*  Durum  opus  eventu  dominant  pepulisse  decenni. 

Carm.  Lib.  1.  Ep.  12. 
t  Epist.  ad  Post. 


34  ON  THE  LOVE 

spite  of  myself,  but  I  love  in  lamentations  and 
in  tears :  I  will  hate  her,  no,  I  must  still  love 
her*."  Seven  years  after  the  date  of  this 
letter  the  conflict  had  not  yet  ceased.  "  My 
love,"  he  says,  "  is  vehement,  extreme,  but 
exclusive  and  virtuous. — No,  this  disquietude, 
these  suspicions,  these  transports,  this  watch 
fulness,  this  delirium,  this  weariness  of  every 
thing,  are  not  the  signs  of  a  virtuous  lovef." 

XIV.  PETRARCH  was  in  Italy  when  the 
plague,  which  in  1348  laid  Europe  waste, 
snatched  away  some  of  his  dearest  friends, 
and  appalled  him  with  the  presage  of  a 
still  greater  calamity.  "  Formerly,"  says  he, 
"  when  I  quitted  Laura,  I  saw  her  often  in  my 
dreams.  It  was  a  heavenly  vision  which  con 
soled  me,  but  now  it  affrights  me.  I  think  I 
hear  her  say— dost  thou  remember  the  evening 
when,  forced  to  quit  thee,  I  left  thee  bathed  in 
tears  ?  I  then  foresaw— but  I  could  not— would 
not  tell  thee.  I  tell  thee  now,  and  thou  mayest 
believe  me — thou  wilt  see  me  no  more  on  this 
earth  :" 

Non  sperar  di  vedermi  in  terra  mai. 


*  Famil.  Lib.  4.  Ep.  1 . 

t  Liber  de  Secreto  Conflictu  Curarum  suarum.    An.  1343. 


OF  PETRARCH.  35 

Two  months  afterwards  Laura  died  in  her 
fortieth  year,  and  Petrarch  wrote  in  a  copy 
of  Virgil  this  memorandum  :  "It  was  in  the 
early  days  of  my  youth,  on  the  6th  of  April,  in 
the  morning,  and  in  the  year  1327,  that  Laura, 
distinguished  by  her  own  virtues,  and  cele 
brated  in  my  verses,  first  blessed  my  eyes  in 
the  church  of  Santa  Clara,  at  Avignon ;  and  it 
was  in  the  same  city,  on  the  6th  of  the  very 
same  month  of  April,  at  the  very  same  hour  in 
the  morning,  in  the  year  1348,  that  this  bright 
luminary  was  withdrawn  from  our  sight,  when 
I  was.  at  Verona,  alas!  ignorant  of  my  calamity. 
The  remains  of  her  chaste  and  beautiful  body 
were  deposited  in  the  church  of  the  Cordeliers, 
on  the  evening  of  the  same  day.  To  preserve 
the  afflicting  remembrance,  I  have  taker  a 
bitter  pleasure  in  recording  it  particularly  in 
this  book  which  is  most  frequently  before  my 
eyes,  in  order  that  nothing  in  this  world  may 
have  any  farther  attraction  for  me ;  that  this 
great  attachment  to  life  being  dissolved,  I  may 
by  frequent  reflection,  and  a  proper  estimation 
of  our  transitory  existence,  be  admonished  that 
it  is  high  time  for  me  to  think  of  quitting  this 
earthly  Babylon,  which  I  trust  it  will  not  be 
difficult  for  me,  with  a  strong  and  manly  cou 
rage,  to  accomplish." 

n  2 


3fi  ON  THE  LOVE 

XV.  LAURA,  independently  of  the  influence 
of  love,  had  over  Petrarch  that  ascendancy 
which  every  person  who  acts  invariably  with 
calmness,  must  acquire  over  impassioned  cha 
racters.  Her  religious  sentiments  were  marked 
by  more  serenity  and  confidence  than  those  of 
her  lover.  In  all  her  actions  her  self-posses 
sion  appears  rather  natural  than  forced.  Her 
conversation  is  full  of  that  sweetness,  that  dis 
cretion,  and  that  good  sense,  which  form  a 
triumphant  contrast  with  the  enthusiasm  of  the 
Poet.  She  always  seems  to  think  that  mo 
desty  and  her  own  esteem  are  the  most  beau 
tiful  ornaments  of  a  woman.  Petrarch  speaks 
often  of  her  noble  birth;  and  from  the  costli 
ness  and  elegance  of  her  dress,  it  appears  that 
she  possessed  a  fortune  equal  to  her  rank. 
But  she  did  not  wish  to  live  too  much  no 
ticed  in  the  world : 

In  nobil  sangue  vita  umile  e  queta. 

Proud  as  she  was  of  the  affection  she  had 
deserved,  and  of  the  celebrity  which  it  had 
given  her, 

Quel  dolce  nodo 

Mi  piacque  assai,  ch'  intorno  al  core  avei, 

K  piacemi  il  bel  nonie, 


OF  PETRARCH.  37 

she  was  more  devoted  to  the  cares  of  her  fa 
mily  than  to  literature  and  poetry, 

E  non  euro  giammai  rime  ne  versi. 

Her  domestic  situation,  however,  was  not  a 
happy  one ;  for  her  husband,  whom  she  made 
her  heir,  leaving  to  his  care  three  sons  and 
six  daughters,  married  again  in  seven  months, 
while  he  was  still  in  mourning  for  her*.  Al 
though  Petrarch  occasionally  fancied  it  so 
strongly,  as  to  make  the  readers  of  his  poetry 
believe,  that  she  really  loved  him,  he  is  by  far 
more  explicit  when  he  tells  that  it  has  ever 
been  the  only  one  impenetrable  secret  of  the 
breast  of  Laura;  and  indeed  she  buried  it  with 
herself.  The  soft  and  pensive  character  of  her 
countenance,  expressed  a  mind  capable  of  suf 
fering  without  complaining : 

In  aspetto  pensoso  anima  lieta. 

We  are  sensible  of  exaggeration  when  Petrarch 
describes  Laura  as  "  sent  .upon  the  earth  to 
assure  mankind  of  the  existence  of  the  angels 
in  heaven," 

A  far  del  Ciel  fecle  f ra  noi ; 


*  DE  SADE,  Pieces  justificat.  V.  ^. 


3s  ON  THE  LOVE 

still  if,  as  he  often  believed,  a  real  passion 
preyed  upon  her  heart,  and  she  was  making  a 
daily  sacrifice  of  herself  and  her  lover  to  her 
duties,  the  persevering  silence  of  Laura,  and 
the  alternate  appearances  of  severity  and  fond 
ness  towards  Petrarch,  ought  to  be  ascribed 
less  to  artifice  than  to  her  constant  efforts  to 
conceal  feelings  which  she  might  apprehend 
dangerous  to  disclose,  and  which,  at  the  same 
time,  it  was  not  in  her  power  to  conquer. — 
"  Hence  I  console  myself,  and  prefer  sufferings 
for  such  a  woman  to  the  possession  of  any 
other:" 

Pur  mi  consola,  che  morir  per  lei 
Meglio  e  die  gioir  <T  altra. 

XVI.  BUT  this  is  the  supposition  of  a  lover; 
for  passion  and  reason,  though  they  at  first 
meet  in  our  mind  as  two  friends,  seldom  reign 
together  with  equality  of  power;  and,  in  a 
short  time,  the  one  must  inevitably  yield  to 
the  dictatorship  of  the  other.  That  love  should 
not  have  been,  during  twenty  years,  subdued 
by  resolute  virtue,  nor  virtue  overpowered  by 
love,  is  a  phenomenon  that  can  be  conceived 
only  as  among  the  ideal  possibilities  of  things. 
It  seems,  however,  very  consistent  with  the 
frequent  contradictions  of  human  nature  to 


OF  PETRARCH.  39 

suppose,  that  Laura,  without  loving  the  man, 
cherished  the  passion  she  had  inspired.  There 
is  a  keen  gratification  in  the  consciousness  of 
possessing  charms  that  are  fatal  to  their  ad 
mirers;  it  tempts  even  the  best-natured  per 
sons,  because  it  is  softened  with  a  kind  feeling 
of  pity  for  the  sufferers.  Like  Eve  looking 
into  the  lake  of  Paradise, 

I  started  back ; 

It  started  back  :  but  pleased  I  soon  returned ; 
Pleased  it  return'd  as  soon  with  answering  looks 
Of  sympathy  and  love, 

her  daughters  frequently  delight  to  search  in 
the  heart  of  their  lover  for  the  reflection  of 
their  own  image  only.  Enthusiasm  for  a  dis 
tinguished  man;  need  of  sentimental  diversions 
from  the  monotony  of  a  lonely  life;  imperious 
necessity  of  being  loved,  which  perhaps  is  the 
only  pleasure  constantly  sought  by  men  and 
women,  and  which  is  indispensable  to  the  sex 
that  stands  naturally  in  need  of  the  support  of 
the  stronger ;  and  lastly,  the  habitual  sense  of 
religion  and  modesty,  strengthened  by  the  fear 
of  public  opinion,  and  exalted  by  an  earnest 
wish  of  perfecting  the  moral  habits  of  their 
lover,  and  of  changing  their  passion  to  a  last 
ing  friendship — all  these  sensations,  and  per 
haps  many  more,  acting  at  the  same  time, 


40  ON  THE  LOVE 

tempting  and  flattering  each  other,  are  so 
blended  as  to  keep  women  in  a  condition  of 
mind  which  they  frequently  mistake  for  a  pure 
and  serious  attachment.  Thus  Laura's  love 

"  Was  but  a  lambent  flame  which  play'd  about  her  breast." 

For,  shewing  constantly  a  generous  kindness 
to  Petrarch,  she  never  exposed  her  virtue, 
while  by  the  best  calculated  diplomacy  of  co 
quetry,  without  once  committing  her  secret, 
she  was  ever  successful  in  keeping  alive  and 
disappointing  the  hope  of  her  lover;  and  she 
justified  herself  with  the  belief,  that,  by  the 
example  of  her  chastity,  she  guided  him  on 
the  way  to  heaven.  Indeed,  by  checking  his 
warm  inclination  to  sensual  indulgences,  and 
by  exalting  his  religious  principles,  her  con 
duct  proved  beneficial  to  him*.  But  he  was 
also  disposed  to  a  morbid  sensibility;  a  dis 
ease  peculiar  to  men  of  genius,  and  which, 
whenever  it  is  embittered  by  protracted  mis 
fortunes  or  lingering  passions,  never  fails  to 
degenerate  into  a  hopeless  consumption  of 
mind. 


*  Senil.  lib.  8.  epist.  1 — Lib.  9.  epist.  2— Lib.  11.  epist.  3. 
—  Faniil.  Epist.  1)8. 


OF  PETRARCH.  41 

XVII.  He  endured  for  twenty- one  years  the 
misery  of  adoring  at  once  and  suspecting  the 
human  being  that  he  believed  to  be  the  only 
one  that  was  essential  to  his  happiness — a  per 
plexity  which  wears  to  death,  and  humbles 
before  his  own  eyes  every  man  who 

Is  of  a  constant,  loving,  noble  nature. — OTHELLO. 

For  these  are  the  very  characters  that  nature 
has  doomed  to  raging  passion;  whilst  very 
few,  even  amongst  them,  have  received  in 
compensation  the  fortitude  of  being  so  inex 
orable  against  their  own  deepest  affections,  as 
at  any  rate  to  cut  out  by  the  root  that  ulcer 
which  men  in  general  only  feed  and  foster 
by  the  temporizing  remedies  they  apply.  It 
seems  that  Petrarch  was  pleased  with  exerting 
his  courage,  in  sustaining  a  long  war  with  his 
own  hopes  and  fears;  and  that  he  never  en 
joyed  the  pleasure  of  a  mind  which,  smiling  at 
the  allurement  of  hope,  and  scorning  the  com 
miseration  of  men,  measures  all  the  extent  of 
its  sorrow,  and  bears  it  unshaken  by  the  fluc 
tuation  of  doubts  and  illusions.  Petrarch,  on 
the  contrary,  felt  always  a  kind  of  necessity  of 
attracting  by  all  means  the  sympathy  of  the 
world ;  and  the  wretchedness  that  is  encouraged 
by  such  a  vanity  is  utterly  incapable  of  self- 


42  ON  THE  LOVE 

consolation.  A  refined  mind,  agitated  by  a 
natural  quickness  of  sensations  habitually  un 
controlled,  made  him  dread,  and  wish  by  turns 
the  possession  of  Laura.  His  passion  was  pro 
tracted  by  that  unmanly  irresolution  which 
was  the  real  source  of  his  misery  and  lamenta 
tions,  and  afforded  to  Laura  the  best  means 
of  preserving  b'oth  her  lover  and  her  virtue. 
While  he  was  aware  "  of  the  madness  and  hu 
miliation  of  loving  without  being  loved*" — he 
still  entertained  the  conviction,  "  that  there 
does  not  exist  a  breast  so  heartless  that 
might  not  be  moved  by  constant  entreaties 
and  tears — 

Non  e  si  duro  cor  che  lagrimando, 
Pregando,  amando  talor  non  si  smova. 

With  these  lines  ends  the  poetry  which  he 
wrote  during  the  life  of  Laura.  Her  beauty 
had  long  since  yielded  more  to  infirmity  than 
to  age.  She  was  scarcely  thirty-five  when 
Petrarch  wrote  in  one  of  his  most  serious 
works,  "If  I  had  loved  her  person  only,  I 
had  changed  long  since |."  His  friends  won- 

*  Ah  demens  !  ita  nejiammas  animi  in  SEXTUM  ET  DECIMUM 
ANNUM  aluixti? — De  Secreto  Conflictu. 

t  Si  post  corpus  abiisscm,  jampridem  tnutandi  prupoaiti  ttm- 
pvs  erat. — L.  C. 


OF  PETRARCH.  43 

dered  how  a  beauty  so  withered  should  con 
tinue  to  inspire  so  ardent  an  attachment. 
"  What  does  it  signify,"  answered  Petrarch, 
"  that  the  bow  can  no  longer  wound,  since  its 
mortal  blow  has  been  already  inflicted?" 

Piaga  per  allentar  d'  arco  non  sana. 
What  deep  wounds  ever  closed  without  a  scar? 
The  heart's  bleed  longest,  and  but  heal  to  wear 
That  which  disfigures  it.  CHILDE  HAROLD. 

When  she  disappeared  for  ever  from  his  eyes, 
melancholy  sensations  had  long  become  habi 
tual  to  him. 

And  roused  to  livelier  pangs  his  wakeful  sense  of  woe. 

In  the  course  of  the  ten  following  years  he 
wrote  the  second  part  of  his  love-poetry,  where 
he  describes  Laura  as  sometimes  appearing  to 
him  in  the  middle  of  the  night;  at  other  times 
"  he  dissolves  into  ecstasies,"  and  brings  "  the 
third  heaven  before  his  eyes,"  to  contemplate 
the  celestial  beauties  of  Laura.  Frequently 
he  complains  of  the  fatality  which  condemned 
him  still  to  nourish  his  desires  upon  the  dust 
of  a  shadow — 

Tale  e  terra,  e  posto  ha  in  doglia 


Lo  mio  cor ;  che  vivendo  in  pianto  il  tenne — 
II  desir  vive,  e  la  speranza  e  morta. 


44 


ON  THE  LOVE 


Again — "  What  art  thou  doing?  why  art  thou 
still  musing,  O  my  disconsolate  soul?  Why 
dost  thou  persevere  in  looking  back  to  the 
time  that  cannot  return?  Thou  only  addest 
fuel  to  the  fire  in  which  thou  consumest.  Let 
us  seek  heaven,  since  nothing  pleases  us  on 
earth  from  the  day  that  we  saw  that  beauty 
which,  living  and  dead,  was  destined  to  dis 
turb  our  repose- 
Che  fai?  die  pensi?  che  pur  dietro  guardi 

Nel  tempo  clie  tornar  non  puote  omnai, 

Anima  sconsolata  ?    che  pur  vai 

Giungendo  legne  al  foco  ove  tu  ardi ! 
Cerchiamo  '1  Ciel,  se  qui  nulla  ne  place ! 

Che  mal  per  noi  quella  belta  si  vide, 

Se  viva  e  morta  ne  dovea  tor  pace. 

And  the  doubt  if  he  had  ever  been  loved,  or 
had  been  always  deluded  by  Laura,  still  con 
tinued  to  corrode  his  heart.  More  than  twenty 
years  at  least  after  he  had  lost  her,  when  he 
was  himself  on  the  brink  of  the  grave,  and 
when  he  was  able  to  think  of  her  with  more 
composure,  he  drew  from  his  memory  a  pic 
ture  more  distinct,  though  not  perhaps  per 
fectly  true,  of  the  heart,  the  principles,  and 
the  conduct  of  the  woman,  who  had  made  all 
the  happiness  and  all  the  misery  of  his  life. 


OF  PETRARCH.  45 

XVIII.  HE  describes  Laura  descending  from 
heaven  on  the  dew,  the  night  after  she  had  left 
for  ever  the  miseries  of  the  world.  She  ap 
peared  before  her  lover,  stretched  forth  her 
hand,  and  sighing,  said  to  him :  "  Recognize 
the  woman  who,  from  the  first  moment  that 
thy  young  heart  knew  her,  withdrew  thee  from 
the  path  of  the  crowd.  Whilst  my  tears  testi 
fied  the  sorrow  which  her  loss  had  occasioned 
me — Thou  wilt  never  be  happy,  said  she,  while 
thou  art  the  slave  of  the  world.  To  a  pure 
mind,  death  is  emancipation  from  a  dreary 
prison.  My  loss  would  give  thee  pleasure  if 
thou  knewest  but  a  small  portion  of  my  happi 
ness. — In  uttering  these  words,  she  turned  her 
eyes  with  religious  gratitude  towards  heaven." 

"  She  ceased ;  and  I  said  to  her :  Do  not  the 
weight  of  infirmities  and  the  tortures  invented 
by  tyrants,  sometimes  embitter  the  agonies  of 
death  ?  I  cannot  deny,  said  she,  that  death  is 
preceded  by  acute  suffering  and  by  the  dread 
of  eternity ;  but  if  we  place  our  trust  in  God, 
it  is  but  as  a  sigh.  In  the  flower  of  my  youth, 
when  thou  lovedst  me  the  most,  life  had  its 
greatest  charm  for  me ;  but  when  I  quitted  it, 
I  felt  the  gaiety  of  one  who  leaves  the  place  of 
his  exile  to  return  to  his  home.  I  felt  no  sor 
row  except  pity  for  thee." 


4fi  ON  THE  LOVE 

"  Ah!  but  tell  me,  said  I,  in  the  name  of  that 
fidelity  which  you  formerly  knew,  and  which 
you  now  know  more  certainly  in  the  presence 
of  that  Being1  from  whom  nothing  is  hidden, 
tell  me  was  the  pity  which  you  felt  for  me 
inspired  by  love?" 

"  I  had  hardly  uttered  these  words,  when  I 
perceived  her  countenance  illumined  by  that 
heavenly  smile  which  had  ever  shed  serenity 
over  my  sorrows,  and  she  sighed.  Thou  hast 
always  possessed  my  affection,  said  she,  and 
thou  always  wilt  possess  it — 

Mai  diviso 
Da  te  non  fu  il  mio  cor,  ne  giammai  fia  : 

but  I  have  deemed  it  right  to  temper  thy  pas 
sion,  by  the  sternness  of  my  looks.  A  mother 
never  loves  her  child  more  dearly  than  when 
she  seems  to  chide  it.  How  often  have  I  said 
to  myself,  he  is  consumed  by  a  raging  fire, 
and  I  must  not  therefore  let  him  know  what  is 
passing  in  my  heart.  Alas  !  we  are  little  capa 
ble  of  such  efforts  when  we  ourselves  love  and 
yet  fear.  But  it  was  by  these  means  only, 
that  we  could  preserve  our  honour  and  save 
our  souls.  How  often  have  I  feigned  anger 
while  love  was  struggling  in  my  heart.  When 
I  saw  thee  sinking  beneath  despondency,  I 


OF  PETRARCH.  47 

gave  thee  a  look  of  consolation,  I  spoke  to  thee. 
The  grief  and  the  dread  which  I  felt  must  have 
altered  the  tone  of  my  voice,  and  thou  must 
have  perceived  it.  At  other  times  thou  wert 
carried  away  by  rage,  and  I  could  control 
thee  by  severity  only.  These  are  the  expedi 
ents,  these  are  the  arts  I  have  practised.  It 
was  by  this  alternation  of  kindness  and  of 
rigour  that  I  have  conducted  thee  sometimes 
happy,  sometimes  unhappy,  wearied  in  truth, 
but  still  I  have  conducted  thee  till  there  is  no 
more  any  danger :  I  have  saved  us  both,  and 
my  happiness  is  the  greater  that  I  have." 

"  My  tears  flowed  fast  while  she  spoke,  and 
I  answered  her,  trembling,  that  I  should  be  re 
warded  if  I  might  dare  to  believe  her — she  in 
terrupted  me,  and  her  face  reddened  as  she 
said  :  O  thou  of  little  faith,  wherefore  dost  thou 
doubt?  My  tongue  shall  NEVER  REVEAL  whe 
ther  thou  hast  been  as  dear  to  my  eyes  as  to 
my  heart — 

Sc  al  mondo  tu  piacesti  agli  occhi  miei, 

QUESTO  MI  TACCIO. 

But  in  nothing  have  I  delighted  more  than  in 
thy  love,  and  in  the  immortality  which  thou 
hast  given  to  my  name.  All  that  I  required  of 
thee  was  to  moderate  thy  excess.  In  endea- 


48 


ON  THE  LOVE 


vouring  to  tell  me  the  secret  of  thy  soul,  thou 
openedst  it  to  all  the  world.  Thence  arose  my 
coldness.  The  more  thou  calledst  aloud  for 
pity,  the  more  was  I  constrained  by  modesty 
and  fear  to  be  silent.  There  has  been  little 
difference  in  our  sympathy,  except  that  the 
one  proclaimed,  and  the  other  concealed  it. 
But  complaint  does  not  embitter  sufferings, 
nor  does  silence  soften  them"- 

Non  e  minore  il  duol,  perch'  altri  il  prema ; 
Ne  minor  per  andarsi  lamentando : 
Per  fiazion  non  cresce  il  ver,  ne  scema. 

They  continue  this  conversation,  and  Pe 
trarch  dwells  with  some  complacency  on  the 
merit  of  his  poetry,  whilst  Laura  is  unable 
to  conceal  that  jealousy,  which,  although  it 
springs  immediately  out  of  selfishness  and 
envy,  is  always  mistaken  for  the  inseparable 
effect  of  the  deepest  attachment — "I  would 
have  desired,  she  said,  to  have  been  born  near 
thy  beautiful  country ;  however,  that  land  in 
which  I  have  been  fortunate  enough  to  please 
thee,  ought  to  seem  fair  in  my  eyes.  Haply 
that  heart,  whose  devotion  TO  ME  ALONE  is  my 
unfailing  delight,  would  have  felt  for  others."— 

Che  potea  il  cor,  del  qual  SOLA  10  mi  fido, 
Volgersi  altrove 


OF  PETRARCH.  49 

Questo  no,  rispos'io,  perche  la  rota 
Terza  del  ciel  m'alzava  a  tanto  amore, 
Ovunque  fosse,  stabile  ed  immota. 

Or  che  si  sia,  diss'ella,  io  n'ebbi  onore 
Che  ancor  mi  segue.     Ma  per  tuo  diletto 
Tu  non  t'accorgi  del  fuggir  dell' ore. 

"  O  no!"  I  cried,  "  the  rolling  spheres  above 
That  kindled  first  the  nascent  spark  to  love, 
Whatever  clime  your  heavenly  presence  own'd, 
Had  led  me  there  by  sacred  instinct  bound." 

"  Whate'er  you  think,  the  honour  all  was  mine," 
The  vision  answer'd  with  a  smile  divine ; 
"  But  heedless  how  the  blissful  moments  fly, 
You  see  not  how  Aurora  climbs  the  sky  !"    BOYD'S  Trans/. 

Her  lover  then  asked  her,  if  it  would  be  long 
before  he  should  rejoin  her.  Laura  departed, 
saying  :  "  As  far  as  it  is  permitted  me  to  know, 
thou  wilt  remain  long  upon  earth  without  rae"- 

Ella  gia  mossa,  disse :   Al  creder  mio, 
Tu  starai  in  terra  senza  me  gran  tempo. 

Petrarch  survived  Laura  twenty-six  years. 


AN  ESSAY 
ON    THE    POETRY 

OF 

PETRARCH. 


AN    ESSAY 
ON    THE    POETRY 

OF 

PETRARCH. 


NON   HO  SE   NON  QUEST    UNA 

VIA   DA  CELAKE   IL  MIO  ANGOSCIOSO  PIANTO. 

Part.  I.  Son.  81. 


I.  THE  vision  of  the  spirit  of  Laura  was 
written,  as  appears  by  the  expressions  at  the 
close  of  it,  when  Petrarch  was  far  advanced  in 
years.  He  revised  it  four  months  before  his 
death,  and  inserted  it  as  an  episode  in  a  moral 
poem  which  he  called  the  TRIONFI — a  series 
of  allegorical  visions  on  the  powers  of  Love, 
Chastity,  Death,  Talents,  Fame,  Time,  and 
Eternity.  Several  Provencal  poems  written 
before  his  time,  and  the  Dream,  the  Flower  and 
the  Leaf,  and  the  House  of  Fame,  of  his  contem 
porary  Chaucer,  are  of  the  same  description*. 

*   POPE'S  remark  on  the  House  of  Fame. 


54  ON  THE  1'OETRV 

Perhaps  the  models  of  them  may  be  traced  in 
the  visions  which  the  monks  preached  in  imi 
tation  of  those  of  Ezekiel  and  St.  John's  Reve 
lation.  The  last  canto  of  the  Trionfi  is  called 
Delia  Divimta,  and  begins,  "  Since,  then,  I 
behold  nothing  certain  beneath  the  heavens,  1 
look  fearfully  around  me,  and  ask  myself,  in 
what  then  canst  thou  trust?  I  answered,  IN 
GOD." — It  concludes  with  Laura:  "  If  he  who 
beheld  her  on  earth  was  blessed,  what  shall  he 
not  be  on  beholding  her  again  in  heaven !" 

Se  fu  beato  chi  la  vide  in  terra, 

Or  che  fia  dunque  a  rivederla  in  Cielo ! 

He  considered  this  work  as  a  great  underta 
king  ;  and  he  gave  it  up  from  the  fear  that  he 
would  be  unable  to  finish  it*.  He  betook  to 
it  again,  however :  he  perceived  that  he  had 
failed ;  but  he  persevered  nevertheless,  and  left 
it  so  disfigured  with  various  readings,  that  to 
complete  a  copy  after  his  death,  it  was  neces 
sary  to  supply  much  by  conjecture.  It  is  only 
when  he  is  speaking  of  Laura  in  this  poem, 
that  his  heart  communicates  its  fire  to  his 
genius,  which  had  languished  more  under  the 
disgust  of  life  than  the  burthen  of  years.  He 

*  Magnum  opus  inceperam  in  eo  gc  tie  re,  sed  (ttatctn  respiciens, 
snbstiti. — Ad  Joli.  Bocae.  Sen.  Lib.  v.  Ep.  2. 


OF  PETRARCH.  55 

rccordo  his  melancholy  feelings  on  the  margins 
of  his  manuscript :  "  The  more  I  reflect  on 
what  I  am,  the  more  I  feel  ashamed  of  this 
work:  It  is  no  longer  myself,  it  is  another  who 
writes*." — He  was  born  to  create  with  anxiety, 
and  to  dissipate  in  despair,  the  illusions  which 
were  necessary  to  his  repose,  and  he  was  thus 
often  tempted  to  destroy  even  the  lyric  poetry 
which  he  had  addressed  to  Lauraf.  He  does 
not  even  mention  it  in  his  LETTER  TO  POSTE 
RITY,  though,  if  it  had  not  been  for  this  very 
poetry,  the  other  literary  merits  of  this  great 
man  would  not  have  been  remembered  with  so 
much  gratitude.  To  his  intimate  friends,  he 
expresses  himself  ashamed  of  having  devoted 
his  talents  to  the  amusement  of  ballad-singers, 
and  lovers, — lamenting  that  his  verses  had  been 
too  generally  dispersed  to  be  recalled;  and 
complaining  that  they  had  sometimes  been 
partially  disfigured,  and  sometimes  entirely 
forged  by  professional  singers,  who  took  great 
merit  to  themselves  for  collecting  themj.  He 

*  Dnm  quid  sum  cogito,  piidct  here  scribere — scribo  cnim  non 
taiKiuam  ego,  scd  quasi  alms. — Tin's  memorandum  was  copied 
by  the  Archbishop  Beccadelli  from  the  autograph  copy  then  in 
possession  of  Cardinal  Bumbo. 

t   Famil.  Lib.  8.  Ep.  1.— Seuil.  Lib.  5.  Ep.  3. 

J   Senil.  Lib.  13.  Epist.  1. 


56  ON  THE  POETRY 

offers  the  same  apology  to  the  world,  in  the 
first  sonnet  of  his  collection*,  which  he  re 
solved  to  prepare  in  his  old  age,  rejecting  those 
pieces  which  were  apocryphal,  and  those  which 
he  considered  unworthy  of  himf . 

II.  THE  pleasure  of  living  his  youth  over 
again,  of  meeting  Laura  in  every  line,  of  exa 
mining  the  history  of  his  own  heart ;  and  per 
haps  the  consciousness  which,  after  all,  rarely 
misleads  authors  respecting  the  best  of  their 
works,  induced  the  poet  in  his  old  age  to  give 
to  his  love-verses  a  perfection,  which  has  never 
been  attained  by  any  other  Italian  writer,  and 
which  he  thinks  "  he  could  not  himself  have 
carried  farther  J".  If  the  manuscripts  did  not 
still  exist,  it  would  be  impossible  to  imagine 

*  Quand'  era  in  parte  altr'  uom  da  quel  che  or  sono — 
Ma  ben  vegg'io  siccome  al  popol  tutto 
Favola  fui  gran  tempo — 
Or  del  mio  vaneggiar  vergogna  e  il  frutto 
E  il  pentirsi. 

t  They  are  to  be  found  in  almost  all  the  editions,  at  the 
end  of  the  volume,  under  the  titles  of  Giunta,  or  Rime 
rifiutate. 

I  Pietro  Paolo  Vergerio  intese  da  Colucio  Salutato  amico  del 
Petrarca  che  arera  detto,  "  come  le  sue  composizioni  tutte  patera 
migliorare  assai,fuorckc  le  Rime;  nellc  quali  s1  era  tanto  alzato, 
che  piu  non  gli  dai~a  Fanimo  d'arrivarle." — Beccadelli,  Vit.  del 
Petrar. 


OF  PETRARCH.  57 

or  believe  the  unwearied  pains  he  has  bestow 
ed  on  the  correction  of  his  verses.  They  are 
curious  monuments,  although  they  afford  little 
aid  in  exploring  by  what  secret  workings  the 
long  and  laborious  meditation  of  Petrarch  has 
spread  over  his  poetry  all  the  natural  charms 
of  sudden  and  irresistible  inspiration. 

The  following  is  a  literal  translation  of  a  suc 
cession  of  memorandums  in  Latin,  at  the  head 
of  one  of  his  sonnets — "  I  began  this  by  the 
impulse  of  the  Lord  (Domino  jubente),  10th 
September,  at  the  dawn  of  day,  after  my 
morning  prayers." 

"  I  must  make  these  two  verses  over  again, 
singing  them  (cantando),  and  I  must  transpose 
them;  3  o'clock,  A.M.  19th  October." 

"  I  like  this  (hoc  placet),  30th  October, 
10  o'clock  in  the  morning." 

"  No;  this  does  not  please  me.  20th  De 
cember  in  the  evening — 

And  in  the  midst  of  his  corrections  he  writes, 
on  laying  down  his  pen,  "  I  shall  return  to 
this  again ;  I  am  called  to  supper/' 

"  February  18th,  towards  noon;  this  is  now 
well;  however,  look  at  it  again  (vide  tamen 
adhuc)? 

Sometimes  he  notes  the  town  where  he  hap 
pens  to  be — "  13G4,  Veneris  mane,  19  Jan.  dum 


58 


ON  THE  POETRY 


invitus  Pataviiferior" — It  might  seem  rather  a 
curious  than  useful  remark,  that  it  was  gene 
rally  on  Friday  that  he  occupied  himself  with 
the  painful  labour  of  correction,  did  we  not 
also  know  that  it  was  to  him  a  day  of  fast  and 
penitence. 

When  any  thought  occurred  to  him,  he 
noted  it  in  the  midst  of  his  verses  thus,  "  Con 
sider  this — I  had  some  thoughts  of  transposing 
these  lines,  and  of  making  the  first  verse  the 
last,  but  I  have  not  done  so  for  the  sake  of 
harmony — the  first  would  then  be  more  sono 
rous,  and  the  last  less  so,  which  is  against 
rule ;  for  the  end  should  be  more  harmonious 
than  the  beginning."  Sometimes  he  says, 
"  The  commencement  is  good,  but  it  is  not 
pathetic  enough."  In  some  places  he  suggests 
to  himself  to  repeat  the  same  words  rather 
than  the  same  ideas.  In  others  he  judges  it 
better  not  to  multiply  the  ideas,  but  to  amplify 
them  with  other  expressions.  Every  verse  is 
turned  in  several  different  ways;  above  each 
phrase  and  each  word  he  frequently  places 
equivalent  expressions,  in  order  to  examine 
them  again ;  and  it  requires  a  profound  know 
ledge  of  Italian  to  perceive,  that  after  such 
perplexing  scruples,  he  always  adopts  those 
words  which  combine  at  once  most  harmony, 
elegance,  and  energy. 


OF  PETRARCH.  59 

III.  THESE  laborious  corrections  gave  rise 
to  an  opinion,  even  in  the  life-time  of  Pe 
trarch,  that  his  verses  were  the  work  less  of  a 
lover  than  of  a  poet*.  It  is  indubitably  true 
that,  that  passion  cannot  be  very  strong,  which 
we  are  at  leisure  to  describe. — But  a  man  of 
genius  feels  more  intensely  and  suffers  more 
strongly  than  another ;  and  for  this  very  rea 
son,  when  the  force  of  his  passion  has  sub 
sided,  he  retains  for  a  longer  period  the  recol 
lection  of  what  it  has  been,  and  can  more 
easily  iinagine_Jnni£elf-  again  under  its  influ 
ence  ;  and,  in  my  conception,  what  we  call  the 
power  of  imagination  is  chiefly  the  combina 
tion  of  strong  feelings  and  recollections.  Thus 
a  man  of  genius  is  peculiarly  gifted  with  the 
faculty  of  observing  the  secret  workings  of 
human  nature,  as  she  prevails  in  his  own  heart, 
and  in  the  hearts  of  all  mankind  ;  and  is  ena 
bled  to  describe  those  feelings,  and  bring  them 
home  to  every  reader.  The  great  secret  of  the 
poet's  art  is,  to  make  us  feel  our  existence  by 
the  force  of  sympathy;  but  at  the  moment  that 
he  groans  under  his  own  sufferings,  it  is  im 
possible  for  him  to  examine  the  workings  of 
his  heart,  or  those  of  others — and  the  lyrical 
poetry  of  Petrarch,  which  may  be  read  in  the 

*   Epist.  Faniil.  Lib.  2.  Ep.  ?. 


(jQ  ON  THE  POETRV 

course  of  a  few  days,  was  written  during  a  pe 
riod  of  thirty-two  years.  Many  of  the  pieces, 
no  doubt,  were  conceived  at  moments  when 
he  was  under  the  immediate  influence  of  his 
passion  ;  but  were  written  many  days,  perhaps 
many  months,  and  certainly  perfected  many 
years,  afterwards.  The  48th  sonnet  of  the  first 
part  of  his  collection  was  written  eleven  years 
after  his  acquaintance  with  Laura  : 

Or  volge  Signer  mio,  1'  undtcim'  anno 
Ch'  io  fui  sommesso  al  dispietato  giogo — 

Four  years  after  this  last  epoch  he  wrote  the 
85th  sonnet : 

Fuggir  vorrei ;   ma  gli  amorosi  rai 

Che  di  e  notte  nella  mente  stanno 

Risplendon  si  che  al  quintode dm'  anno 

M' abbaglian  piu  che  il  primo  giorno  assai — 

During  the  course  of  this  year,  and  the  whole 
of  the  next,  he  composed  only  eleven  sonnets; 
for  the  96th  began 

Rimansi  addietro  il  sestodecim*  fuuao — 

and  the  97-th 

Dicesett'  anni  ha  gia  rivolto  il  Cielo. 

Thus   in  these    twelve  months   he   wrote   only 


OP  PETRARCH.  ft] 

fourteen  verses  to  Laura.  Indeed  if  his  mind 
had  experienced  no  intervals  of  calm,  he  would 
never  have  been  able  to  execute  those  concep 
tions,  and  still  less  to  correct  them.  He  would 
not  have  lived  so  long;  or,  if  he  had  lived,  it 
would  have  been  in  that  state  of  disquietude 
and  inaction,  inseparable  from  agitated  feel 
ings.  The  harmony,  elegance,  and  perfection 
of  his  poetry  are  the  result  of  long  labour; 
but  its  original  conceptions  and  pathos  always 
sprang  from  the  sudden  inspiration  of  a  deep 
and  powerfuT~passion.  By  an  attentive  per 
usal  of  all  the  writings  of  Petrarch,  it  may  be 
reduced  almost  to  a  certainty — that  by  dwell 
ing  perpetually  on  the  same  ideas,  and  by 
allowing  his  mind  to  prey  incessantly  on  itself, 
the  whole  train  of  his  feelings  and  reflections 
acquired  one  strong  character  and  tone ;  and 
if  he  was  ever  able  to  suppress  them  for  a 
time,  they  returned  to  him  with  increased  vio 
lence — that,  to  tranquillize  this  agitated  state 
of  his  mind,  he,  in  the  first  instance,  communi 
cated  in  a  free  and  loose  manner  all  that  he 
thought  and  felt,  in  his  correspondence  with 
his  intimate  friends— that  he  afterwards  re 
duced  these  narratives,  with  more  order  and 
description,  into  Latin  verse — and  that  he, 
lastly,  perfected  them  with  a  greater  profusion 


c 


GO  ON  THE  POETRY 

of  imagery  and  more  art,  in  his  Italian  poetry, 
the  composition  of  which  at  first  served  only, 
as  he  frequently  says,  "  to  divert  and  mitigate 
all  his  afflictions." 

~~  IV.  WE  may  thus  understand  the  perfect 
concord  which  prevails  in  Petrarch's  poetry 
between  nature  and  art;  between  the  accuracy 
of  fact  and  the  magic  of  invention ;  between 
depth  and  perspicuity;  between  devouring  pas 
sion  and  calm  meditation.  In  three  or  four 
verses  of  Italian  he  often  condenses  the  de 
scription,  and  concentrates  the  fire,  which  fill 
a  page  of  his  elegies  and  letters  in  Latin.  It 
is  precisely  because  the  poetry  of  Petrarch 
originally  sprang  from  his  heart,  that  his  pas 
sion  never  seems  fictitious  or  cold,  notwith 
standing  the  profuse  ornament  of  his  style,  or 
the  metaphysical  elevation  of  his  thoughts.  In 
the  movement  of  Laura's  eyes  he  sees  a  light 
which  points  out  the  way  to  heaven — 

Gentil  mia  donna,  io  veggio 

Nel  mover  de'  vostri  occhi  un  dolce  lume 

Che  mi  mostra  la  via  che  al  Ciel  conduce. 

He  exclaims  "  that  the  atmosphere  becomes 
smiling,  luminous,  and  serene,  at  her  ap 
proach"- 


OF  PETRARCH.  G3 

II  Ciel  di  vaghe  e  lucide  faville 

S'  accende  intorno ;  e  in  vista  si  rallegra 

D'esser  fatto  seren  da  si  begli  occhi — 

"  that  the  air  which  is  breathed  around  her,  is 
so  purified  by  the  celestial  radiance  of  her 
countenance,  that  while  he  fixes  his  eyes  upon 
her,  every  sensual  desire  is  extinguished"- 

L'aer  percosso  da'suoi  dolci  rai 

S'  infiamma  d'onestate — 

Basso  desir  non  e  ch'  ivi  si  senta ; 

Ma  d'onor,  di  virtute.     Or  quando  mai 

Fu  per  somma  belta  vil  voglia  spenta  ? 

Still  he  is  always  natural..    Few  lovers,  indeed, 
could  have  conceived  these  ideas;  yet  the  fire 
and  the  facility  with  which  they  are  expressed, 
render  them   instantly  familiar  to  the   imagi 
nation  of  almost  every  reader.     In  the  art  of 
forming  new  and  evident  images,  either  of  the  / 
most   simple   or  abstract   ideas,    through    the  / 
means  of  metaphor,  Petrarch  is  as  happy  as 
he  is  original.     To  express  the  common-place^ 
thought,  that  his   poetry   and   the    beauty   of 
Laura  would  be  remembered  after  their  death 
— "  I  see  in  fancy,"  says  he,  "a  silent  tongue, 
and  two  fair  eyes,  though  closed,  still  beaming 
with  light,  surviving  us — 

Ch'  io  veggio  nel  pensier,  dolce  mio  foco, 
Fredda  una  lingua  e  duo  bcgli  occhi  spcnti 
Rimaner  dopo  noi,  pien'di  faville — 


(j4  ON  THE  POETRY 

and  he  has  been  imitated  in  this  passage  by  an 
English  poet,  who  combines  in  a  great  degree 
severity  of  taste,  with  boldness  of  expression : 

"  Ev'n  in  our  ashes  live  their  wonted  fires." — GRAY. 

V.  IF  Petrarch  had  not  too  unsparingly  made 
use  of  antitheses — if  he  had  not  too  frequently 
repeated  his  hyperboles — if  he  had  not  too  often 
compared  Laura  to  the  sun— his  numerous  pla 
giarists,  who,  however,  have  never  been  able 
to  imitate  his  beauties,  would  not  have  been 
so  much  noticed  for  their  faults;  nor  would 
Salvator  Rosa  have  had  occasion  to  complain 
in  his  satires  that  "  These  metaphors  had  ex 
hausted  the  sun.'"—  His  play  upon  the  words 
Lauro  and  Laura,  signifying  the  laurel,  and 
the  air ;  and  the  conceits  afforded  by  the 
transformation  of  Apollo's  Daphne  into  the 
immortal  laurel,  are  still  admired  by  some 
foreigners*,  on  the  authority  of  one  of  the 
most  celebrated  critics  of  Italyf,  who  never 
theless  was  delighted  with  the  Italia  Liber ata 
of  Trissino,  and  would  never  allow  that 
Tasso's  Jerusalem  was  the  work  of  a  poet. 
For  my  own  part,  I  feel  some  pity  towards  a 

*  Madame  de  GENLIS'S  Novel,  Petrarque  ct  La  arc. 
t  G  RAVIN  A,  Radium'  Pncfica.      Lib.  2.   Sect.  27  et  28. 


OF  PETRARCH.  G5 

great  poet,  who  with  such  extreme  delicacy 
and  ardour  of  mind — with  a  judgment  so  diffi 
cult,  and  a  taste  so  refined— with  a  heated 
imagination,  and  an  impassioned  heart,  could 
condescend,  for  the  amusement  of  Laura  and 
his  readers,  to  such  cold  affectations.  Still 
even  Petrarch  was  bound  to  discharge  the  un 
fortunate  duty  of  almost  all  writers,  by  sacri 
ficing  his  own  taste  to  that  of  his  contempora 
ries.  He  ingrafted  on  his  verses  the  agudezzas, 
ternuras,  y  conceptos  of  the  Spanish  poets,  and 
was  deservedly  accused  of  plagiarism. — •"  We 
formerly  possessed,"  says  an  historian  of  Va 
lencia,  "a  famous  poet  named  Mossen  Jordi ; 
and  Petrarch,  who  was  born  a  hundred  years 
after,  robbed  him  of  his  verses,  and  has  sold 
them  in  Italian  to  the  world  as  his  own,  of 
which  I  could  convict  him  in  many  passages; 
however  I  shall  content  myself  with  quoting  a 
few  lines*:" 

MOSSEN  JORDI. 

E  non  he  pau,  e  no  tin  quim  guerreig — 
Vol  sobre  1'  del,  et  nom'  movi  de  terra — 
E  no  estrench  res,  e  tot  lo  mon  abras — 
Oy  he  de  mi,  e  vull  a  altri  gran  be — 
Si  no  es  amor,  donchs  azo'  que  sera? — 


*  GASPARO  SCUOLANO,  I&tor.  Valcnz. 
F 


GG  ON  THE  POETRY 

PETRARCA. 

Pace  non  trc/vo,  e  non  ho  da  far  guerra — 

E  volo  sopra  il  cielo,  e  giaccio  in  terra — 

E  nulla  stringo,  e  tutto  il  mondo  abbraccio — 

Ed  ho  in  odio  me  stesso  ed  amo  altrui — 

S'  amor  non  e,  che  dunque  e  quel  ch'  io  sento? — 

Whether  or  not  Petrarch  has  availed  him 
self  of  other  Spanish  works,  it  is  impossible 
for  me  to  decide.  He  has  inserted  here  and 
there  various  ideas  evidently  borrowed  from  the 
Provencals ;  and,  although  he  has  often  im 
proved  them,  they  displease  precisely  because 
they  do  not  harmonize  with  the  solemn,  pro 
found,  and  impassioned  tenor  of  his  own  style. 
The  following  sonnet,  in  which  Petrarch,  if  he 
did  not  borrow  the  thoughts,  imitated  the  amo 
rous  lamentations,  of  the  French  Troubadours, 
may  give  a  not  imperfect  idea  of  their  love- 
poetry.  It  is  a  mosaic  of  antithesis :  their 
songs  and  their  passions  being  chilled  by  epi 
grammatic  refinement,  they  discover  that  they 
were  neither  inspired  poets  nor  warm  lovers  — 

S'  ana  fede  amorosa,  un  cor  non  finto, 
Un  languir  dolce,  un  desiar  cortese ; 
S'  oneste  voglie  in  gcntil  foco  accese ; 
S'  un  lungo  error  in  cieco  laberinto; 


OF  PETRARCH.  67 

Sc  nella  fronte  ogni  pcnsier  dipinto, 
Od  in  voci  interrotte  appena  intese, 
Or  da  paura,  or  da  vergogna  offese  ; 
S'  un  pallor  di  viola,  e  d'  amor  tinto  ; 

S'  aver  altrui  piu  caro  cbe  se  stesso  ; 
Se  lagrimar,  e  sospirar  mai  sempre ; 
Pascendosi  di  duol,  d'  ira,  e  d'  affanno  ; 

S'  arder  da  lunge,  ed  agghiacciar  da  presso 
Son  le  cagion  ch'amando  i'  mi  distempre: 
Vostro,  donna,  c  '1  peccato,  e  mio  fia  '1  danno. 

If  faith  most  true,  a  heart  that  cannot  feign, 
If  love's  sweet  languishment  and  chasten'd  thought, 
And  wishes  pure  by  nobler  feelings  taught, 
If  in  a  labyrinth  wanderings  long  and  vain, 

If  on  the  brow  each  pang  pourtray'd  to  bear, 
Or  from  the  heart  low  broken  sounds  to  draw, 
Withheld  by  shame,  or  check'd  by  pious  awe, 
If  on  the  faded  cheek  love's  hue  to  wear, 

If  than  myself  to  hold  one  far  more  dear, 
If  sighs  that  cease  not,  tears  that  ever  flow, 
Wrung  from  the  heart  by  all  love's  various  woe, 

In  absence  if  consumed,  and  chill'd  when  near, 
If  these  be  ills  in  which  I  waste  my  prime, 
Though  I  the  sufferer  be,  yours,  lady,  is  the  crime. 

LADY  DACRE. 

VI.  ON  this  imitation  of  the  Troubadours, 
Petrarch  has  engrafted  a  line  borrowed  from 
the  Classics — 

"  Et  tinctus  viola  pallor  amantium." — HORACE. 
F  2 


68  ON  THE  POETRY 

Yet  with  what  delicacy  and  truth  has  he  im 
proved  it,  by  the  happy  expression — Pallore 
tinto  di  viola  e  cTamore.  Mary  Stuart,  fated 
from  her  earliest  youth  to  love  and  sorrow, 
has  translated  the  same  line  of  Horace  in  her 
monody  (preserved  by  Brantome)  on  the  death 
of  her  young  husband,  Francis  the  Second — 

Mon  p&le  visage  de  violet  teint 
Qui  est  1'amoureux  teint. 

Although  the  Latin  poets  were  his  professed 
i  'y    masters,  yet,  fortunately,  Petrarch  fancied  that 
'they  could  not  be  worthily  imitated  in  the  Ita- 
*        ^J4an  language,  and  he  has  therefore  sparingly 
\  borrowed  from  them.  I  can  recognize  only  one 
I  or  two  lines  of  Virgil,  of  Ovid,   or  of  Horace; 
/  of  which,   tempted  rather  by  unavoidable  re- 
\juembrance  than  designed  imitation,  he  occa 
sionally  availed  himself — 

"  Agnovit  longe  gemitum  prsesaga  mali  mens." — VIRGIL. 
Mente  mia  che  presaga  de'  tuoi  danni. 

"  Elige  cui  dicas,  tu  mini  sola  places." — OVID. 
A  cui  io  dissi  :  Tu  sola  a  me  piaci. 

Horace,  by  the  transposition  of  a  few  words, 
has  converted  the  real  passion  of  Sappho  into 
mere  gaiety  and  gallantry— 

"  Duke  ridentem  Lalagen  amabo, 
"  Dulce  loquentem."— 


OF  PETRARCH.  (]9 

Petrarch,  although  he  scarcely  read  Greek, 
and  the  fragments  of  Sappho  were  not  yet 
known,  restored  the  glow  and  the  warmth 
which  Horace  had  effaced,  and,  by  adding  the 
sigh  to  the  smile  and  the  voice  of  his  mistress, 
shewed  that  even  the  Greek  poetess  had  left 
the  picture  unfinished — 

Per  divina  bellezza  indarno  mira 

Chi  gli  occhi  di  costei  gmmmai  non  vide — 

Che  non  sa  come  dolce  ella  sospira 

E  come  dolce  parla  e  dolce  ride. 

Neither  could  the  sensual  love  of  the  Ro 
mans  and  of  the  Greeks  be  reconciled  with 
the  delicacy  of  Petrarch's  poetry.  His  finest 
imitations  are  drawn  from  the  sacred  writings, 
which  I  do  not  believe  has  yet  been  remarked 
by  any  critic,  although  it  must  be  obvious  to 
every  one  how  deeply  all  his  thoughts  were 
imbued  with  religion — 

E  femmisi  all'  incontra 

A  mezza  via,  come  nemico  armato. — P.  2.  Son.  47. 

"  So  shall  thy  poverty  come  as  one  that  travelleth,  and 
thy  want  as  an  armed  man." — Prov.  c.  xxiv.  v.  34. 

E  la  cetera  mia  rivolta  e  in  pianto. — P.  1.  Son.  24. 
"  My  harp  also  is  turned  to  mourning." — Job,  c.xxx.v.  81. 


70  ON  THE  POETRY 

Qual  grazia,  qual  amore,  o  qual  destino 
Mi  dark  penne  a  guisa  di  colomba, 
Ch'io  mi  riposi,  e  levimi  da  terra? — P.  1.  Son.  60. 
"  O  that  I  had  wings  like  a  dove !  for  then  would  I  flee 
away,  and  be  at  rest." — Psalm  Iv.  v.  5. 

Vergine  bella,  che  di  Sol  vestita, 
Coronata  di  stelle.— P.  2.  Canz.  ult. 

"  A  woman  clothed  with  the  sun — and  upon  her  head  a 
crown  of  twelve  stars." — Revel,  c.  xii.  v.  1.  2. 

The  elevated  strain  of  piety  and  love  which 
breathes  through  his  works,  borders  occasion 
ally  on  profaneness — • 

Baciale  il  piede,  e  la  man  bella  e  bianca; 
Dille,  e  il  baciar  sia  in  vece  di  parole, 
Lo  spirto  c  pronto,  ma  la  carne  e  stanca. 
Her  lovely  feet  and  gentle  hands  salute, 
Wafting  a  poor  reply  with  semblance  mute, 
Mourning  and  humble — signs  that  seem  to  speak 
"  The  spirit  is  willing,  but  the  flesh  is  weak." 

Malth.  c.  xxvi.  v.  41. 

To  dissipate  Laura's  jealousy,  he  compares  the 
eagerness  with  which  he  sought  her  resem 
blance  in  the  face  of  beautiful  women,  to  the 
devotion  of  a  pilgrim  gazing  at  the  image  of 
his  Saviour — 

Movesi  '1  vecchierel  canuto,  e  bianco, 
Dal  dolce  loco  ov'  ha  sua  eta  fornita, 
E  dalla  famigliuola  sbigottita 
Che  vede  '1  caro  Padre  venir  manco : 


OF  PETRARCH.  7  1 

Indi,  tracndo  poi  1'antico  fianco 

Per  1'estreme  giornate  di  sua  vita, 

Quanto  piu  puo  col  buon  voler  s'aita, 

Rotto  dagli  anni  e  dal  cammino  stance : 
E  viene  a  Roma  seguendo'l  desio 

Per  mirar  la  sembianza  di  colui 

Ch'ancor  lassu  nel  Ciel  vedere  spera  ; 
Cosi,  lasso,  talor  vo  cercand'  io, 

Donna,  quant'  £  possibile,  in  altrui 

La  desiata  vostra  forma  vera. 


The  palmer  bent,  with  locks  of  silver  gray, 

Quits  the  sweet  spot  where  he  has  pass'd  his  years, 
Quits  his  poor  family  whose  anxious  fears 
Paint  the  loved  father  fainting  on  his  way  ; 

And  trembling,  on  his  aged  limbs  slow  borne, 
In  these  last  days  that  close  his  earthly  course, 
He,  in  his  soul's  strong  purpose,  finds  new  force, 
Though  weak  with  age,  though  by  long  travel  worn : 

Thus  reaching  Rome,  led  on  by  pious  love, 
He  seeks  the  image  of  that  Saviour  Lord 
Whom  soon  he  hopes  to  meet  in  bliss  above  : 

So,  oft  in  other  forms  I  seek  to  trace 

Some  charm,  that  to  my  heart  may  yet  afford 
A  faint  resemblance  of  thy  matchless  grace. 

LADY  DACRE. 

Lovs,  alluding  to  the  creation  of  the  first  man 
in  Genesis,  directs  the  poet  to  write  that 
"  Since  the  eyes  of  Adam  were  unclosed,  man 
kind  had  never  contemplated  such  beauty  as 
Laura  bore  with  her  to  the  grave :" 

F  4 


72  ON  THE  POETRY 

Forma  par  non  fu  mai  dal  di  che  Adamo 
Aperse  gli  occhi  in  prima  ;  e  basti  or  questo : 
Piangendo  detto,  e  tu  piangendo  scrivi. 

VII.  THE  grand  and  solemn  forms  under 
which  Love  is  represented  by  the  Italian  poets, 
belong  more  to  the  mystic  philosophy,  than 
to  the  popular  mythology  of  the  ancients. 
Tasso,  who  in  his  lyrics  yields  only  to  Pe 
trarch,  and  who  possessed  in  a  greater  degree 
the  power  of  generalization,  has  pourtrayed  by 
a  few  bold  strokes  the  image  of  the  Platonic 
or  rather  Pythagorean  Love— 

Amore  alma  e  del  mondo  ;  Amore  e  mente 
Che  guida  in  Ciel  per  corso  obbliquo  il  sole  ; 
E  le  leggi  degli  astri  e  le  carole 
Van  di  sua  lira  al  suon  veloci  e  lente. 

L'aria,  1'acqua,  la  terra,  e  il  foco  ardente 
Misti  alle  membra  dell'  immensa  mole 
Nutre  il  suo  spirto  ;  e  s'uom  s'allegra  e  duole 
Opra  e  d' Amore  o  sped  anco  e  pavente. 

Ma  benche  tutto  crei  tutto  governi, 
E  per  tutto  risplenda  c  in  tutto  spiri, 
Piu  spiega  in  noi  di  sua  possanza  Amore.* 

In  this  description  Love  is  the  soul  of  the  uni 
verse — by  him  all  creation  is  impelled  :  he  agi 
tates  the  elements  in  order  to  mingle  together 
and  to  combine  them  into  new  forms :  he  puts 

*  Tou.  TASSO.      Poesie  Liriche. 


OF  PETRARCH.  73 

all  bodies  into  action,  and  suspends  them  in 
equilibrium  by  the  power  of  attraction  and  re 
pulsion  :  his  wing  stretches  from  one  planet  to 
another;  by  the  sounds  of  his  lyre  he  governs 
their  motions,  and  renders  the  stars  obedient 
to  the  laws  of  universal  harmony.  The  inha 
bitants  of  the  earth  are  governed  by  his  laws : 
our  life  is  but  a  rapid  succession  of  hopes  and 
fears — of  pleasure  and  pain,  because  he  draws 
us  irresistibly  towards  those  objects,  by  which 
we  feel  the  pleasure  and  consciousness  of  our 
existence,  and  makes  us  shun  those  which 
either  embitter  life,  or  bring  on  us  the  indif 
ference  of  death.  The  blind  child,  of  whose 
wantonness  Anacreon  and  Horace  delight  to 
complain,  becomes  in  Petrarch  "  a  Godhead 
in  the  full  vigour  of  manhood,  whose  sight  is 
deep  and  clear,  and  whose  wounds  are  not 
inflicted  by  chance  or  by  caprice" — 

Quell' antico  mio  dolce  empio  Signore — 
Cieco  non  gia,  ma  faretrato  il  veggo ; 
Garzon  con  1'ali,  non  pinto,  ma  vivo — 

severe  and  inexorable,  he  commands  resigna 
tion,  because  "  he  executes  those  laws  to  which 
heaven  and  earth  are  alike  subject "- 

Dura  legge  d' Amor!  ma  benche  obbliqua, 
Servar  conviensi;  pero  ch'ella  aggiunge 
Di  cielo  in  terra,  universale,  antiqua. 


74  ON  THE  POETRY 

At  the  same  time  that  he  excites  the  spiritual, 
he  cannot  avoid  exciting  the  material,  portion 
of  our  nature ;  and  that  we  desire  the  body  as 
much  as  the  soul  of  the  object  of  our  affec 
tions,  must  be  ascribed  to  the  grossness  of  our 
senses,  and  not  to  the  viciousness  of  our  pas 
sion.  He  is  thus  not  the  tyrant  of  Petrarch, 
but  his  "  master  and  preceptor" — "  the  di 
rector  of  his  conduct  and  the  depositary  of  his 
secrets" — nor  does  he  disdain  "  to  render  an 
account  of  the  exercise  of  this  power." — 
"  Thou  knowest  that  I  feed  upon  tears ;  but 
them  knowest  also,  that  at  this  price  thou  hast 
been  able  to  respect  the  purity  of  that  beauty 
which  thou  adorest,  to  raise  thy  mind  to  that 
Being  who  created  her,  and  to  render  thyself 
like  unto  her" — 

Amor  mi  manda  quel  dolce  pensiero, 

Che  secretario  antico  e  fra  noi  due, 

_ 
E  mi  conforta. 

lo  mi  pasco  di  lagrime ;  e  tu  '1  sai. 

Da  mille  atti  inonesti  io  t'  ho  ritratto — 
Di  lei  1'  alto  vestigio 
T' impress!  al  core  e  fecil  suo  simile — 
Da  volar  sopra  il  ciel  t'avea  dato  ali. 

These  conversations  often  pass  between  Love 
and  the  Poet  on  the  banks  of  the  Sorga;  and 


OF  PETRARCH.  75 

they  wander  together  through  the  valley  of 
Vaucluse,  after  the  death  of  Laura,  consoling 
each  other  for  her  loss — 

Amor,  che  meco  al  buon  tempo  ti  stavi 
In  queste  rive  a'  pensier  nostri  amiche, 
E  per  saldar  le  ragion  nostre  antiche, 
Meco,  e  col  fiume  ragionando  andavi. 

Si  aspre  vie  ne  si  selvagge 

Cercar  non  so,  che  Amor  non  venga  sempre 
Ragionando  con  meco,  ed  io  con  lui. 

VIII.  BESIDES  these  different  personifica 
tions  of  the  passion,  the  modes  of  describing  it 
are  so  various,  that  out  of  kindness  to  those 
persons,  who  must  not  understand  Greek,  and 
for  whom  this  little  volume  is  chiefly  written,  I 
shall  add,  towards  the  end,  some  extracts  from 
the  amorous  poetry  of  the  Greeks,  from  Sap 
pho's  age,  down  to  the  poets  of  the  Lower 
Empire*.  Petrarch's  love-poetry  may  be  con 
sidered  as  the  intermediate  link  between  that 
of  the  classics  and  the  moderns.  Sappho's 
description  of  her  own  passion  is  what  every 
person  of  the  same  ardent  mind  would  inevita 
bly  feel  under  the  same  circumstances;  and 
what  every  observer  can  discern,  and  thinks, 

*  APPENDIX,  No.  II. 


7(3  ON  THE  POETRY 

perhaps,  that  he  could  describe.  The  genius, 
however,  of  at  once  seizing,  of  harmoniously 
arranging,  and  of  rapidly  and  powerfully  paint 
ing  all  the  exterior  circumstances  of  a  passion, 
so  as  to  bring  it  home  to  the  bosom  of  every 
^trezder,  belongs  but  to  a  gifted  few — for  it  re- 
v  quires  a  profound  knowledge  of  all  the  work 
ings  of  the  human  heart.  It  was  only  by 
the  deep  study  of  anatomy,  that  Michelangelo 
learned  to  give  correctness  and  energy  to  the 
forms  and  attitudes  of  his  figures.  But  if  an 
artist,  in  order  to  display  his  knowledge  of 
anatomy,  should  present  the  interior,  rather 
than  the  exterior,  conformation  of  the  human 
body,  would  Nature,  in  his  hands,  assume  the 
same  aspect,  by  which  she  delights  every  eye, 
and  moves  every  heart?  A  modern  Sappho, 
more  skilled  in  displaying  the  interior  anatomy 
of  her  feelings,  exhibits  them  rather  to  the  un 
derstanding,  than  to  the  eyes  and  hearts  of  her 
readers*:  but  they  who  can  coolly  dissect 
their  passions,  cannot  excite  the  sympathy  of 
others.  Petrarch  both  feels  like  the  ancient, 
fand  philosophizes  like  the  modern  poets.  When 
\  he  paints  after  the  manner  of  the  classics,  he  is 
(^ equal  if  not  superior  to  them.  The  spirit  of 

*  CORINNE,  ou  1'Italie. 


OF  PETRARCH.  77 

Laura  soars  to  heaven,  angels  and  blessed  souls 
/  descend  to  meet  her,  and  while  she  looks  back 
J  upon  earth  to  see  if  Petrarch  follows  her,  she 
V,  seems  to  pause  in  her  aerial  way — 

Ad  or  ad  or  si  volge  a  tergo 
Mirando  s'io  la  seguo ;  e  par  che  aspetti. 

These  few  words  contain  a  sublime  and  impas 
sioned  picture,  requiring  only  the  colouring  of 
Titian.  The  poet  could  not  give  us  a  greater 
proof  of  the  force  and  purity  of  Laura's  passion 
than  by  delaying  her  flight  to  heaven  in  the 
expectation  of  her  lover.  It  is  true  that  these 
are  inferences  which  we  must  ourselves  draw  : 
but  those  hearts  which  are  not  at  once  capable 
of  supplying  them,  do  not  deserve  to  have 
them  suggested.  When  Petrarch  complies  with 
the  taste  of  his  age,  love  and  religion  some 
times  give  warmth  and  solemnity  even  to  the 
coldest  antithesis:  "  Do  not  lament  my  fate," 
says  the  spirit  of  Laura  to  her  lover;  "  for  in 
dying,  my  days  became  eternal,  and  when  I 
appeared  to  close  my  "eyes,  it  was  then  that 
they  were  first  opened  "- 

Di  me  non  pianger  tu,  che  i  miei  di  fersi, 
Morendo,  eterni;  e  nell'eterno  lume 
Quando  mostrai  di  chiuder  gli  occhi,  apersi. 


78  ON  THE  POETRY 

The  lady,  whose  translations  are  the  fairest 
ornaments  of  these  pages,  has  thus  admirably 
rendered  this  passage : 

No  longer  mourn  my  fate!   through  death  my  days 
Become  eternal! — to  eternal  light 
These  eyes,  which  seemed  in  darkness  closed,  I  raise! 

LADY  DACRE. 

But  whenever  he  has  occasion  to  express  abs 
tract  ideas,  or  to  dive  into  the  depths  of  the 
heart,  Petrarch  does  not  stop  to  define  or  ex 
pand  ;  he  uses  every  effort  of  his  art  that  his 
observations  may  pass  across  the  mind  of  his 
reader  with  the  flash  and  rapidity  of  lightning. 
— "I  know,"  says  he,  "how  eagerly  we  pursue 
her  who  flies  from  us,  and  yet  how  we  fear 
to  overtake  her."  As  every  person  who  has 
loved,  has  found  himself  in  this  situation,  he  is 
the  more  ready  to  acquiesce  in  an  observa 
tion  which  follows  it,  equally  just,  though 
not  equally  familiar — •"  I  know  that  a  lover 
may  become  so  completely  imbued  with  the 
thoughts  of  his  mistress,  as  to  believe  almost 
in  his  identity  with  her — 

So  della  mia  nemica  cercar  1'orme 
E  temer  di  trovarla— e  so  in  qual  guisa 
L'amante  nell'amato  si  trasforme. 


OF  PETRARCH.  7{) 

IX.  A  MODERN  writer,  bound  to  construct 
poetry  less  on  the  poetical  principles  of  Pe 
trarch,  than  on  the  analytical  taste  of  his  own 
times,  could  not  render  this  passage  but  with 
double  the  number  of  lines — 

I  know  what  hope  and  fear  assail  the  mind 
When  I  pursue  my  love,  yet  dread  to  find  ; 
I  know  the  strange  and  sympathetic  tie, 
When,  soul  in  soul  transfused,  a  fond  ally 
For  ever  seems  another  and  the  same, 
Or  change  with  mutual  love  their  mortal  frame. 

BOYD'S  Transl. 

But,  besides  this  amplification,  these  lines  have 
nothing  to  do  with  mutual  love;  for  the  poet  ex 
pressly  calls  Laura  his  enemy  in  them:  and  it 
would  seem  that  his  translator  had  rather  in 
view  a  passage  of  the  Epistle  of  Eloisa — 

Oh !  happy  state !  when  souls  each  other  draw, 
When  love  is  liberty,  and  nature  law : 
All  then  is  full,  possessing  and  possest, 
No  craving  void  left  aching  in  the  breast ; 
Ev'n  thought  meets  thought,  ere  from  the  lips  it  part ; 
And  each  warm  wish  springs  mutual  from  the  heart ; 
This  sure  is  bliss  (if  bliss  on  earth  there  be), 
And  once  the  lot  of  Abelard  and  me. 

This  school  of  poetical  analysis,  which  the  ad 
mirable  taste  of  Pope  brought  to  such  perfec- 


g0  ON  THE  POETRY 

tion,  belongs,  if  I  may  venture  to  give  an  opi 
nion,  more  exclusively  to  the  English,  and  is 
of  early  date.  The  notion  expressed  by  Pe 
trarch  in  the  single  line, 

L'  amante  nell'  amato  si  trasformc, 

Ben  Jonson  has  thus  amplified  into  metaphy 
sical  detail: 

It  is  a  flame  and  ardour  of  the  mind, 

Dead  in  the  proper  corpse,  quick  in  another's : 

Transfers  the  lover  into  the  loved  : 

That  he  or  she,  that  loves,  engraves  or  stamps 

The  idea  of  what  they  love,  first  in  themselves; 

Or,  like  the  glasses,  so  their  minds  take  in 

The  forms  of  their  beloved,  and  them  reflect. 

Some  passages  in  Petrarch  are,  no  doubt, 
too  compressed  and  obscure;  yet  so  much  is 
the  reader  hurried  along  by  the  warmth  and 
passion  of  the  lover,  that  he  fancies  he  under 
stands  what  in  reality  demands  some  meditation 
to  unravel.  It  would  seem  that  if  we  do  not 
conceive  very  distinctly  the  thoughts  of  a 
poet,  his  lines  must  lose  much  of  their  effect; 
still  whatever  is  deeply  felt,  we  think  is  dis 
tinctly  conceived  by  us, — and  it  is  just  when 
we  are  doubting  whether  we  can  soar  with  him 
above  the  precincts  of  the  earth,  that  Petrarch 
contrives  to  insinuate  himself  into  the  inmost 


OF  PETRARCH.  81 

folds  of  our  hearts;  and  the  moment  we  feel 
with  him,  we  are  willing  to  admit  the  truth  of 
his  visions.  He  exclaims  that  "  Heaven  and 
Nature  have  united  their  efforts  to  exhibit 
their  fairest  work  in  Laura "- 

Chi  vuol  veder  quantunque  puo  Nature, 
E  il  Ciel  fra  noi,  venga  a  mirar  costei — 

Again, 

Le  stelle,  il  Cielo,  e  gli  element!  a  prova 
Tutte  lor  arti  ed  ogni  estrema  cura 
Poser  nel  vivo  lume  in  cui  Natura 
Si  specchia — 

"That  Laura  came  invested  with  all  her  virtues 
from  the  planet  which  she  inhabited  before  she 
descended  on  earth" — • 

In  tale  Stella  due  begli  occhi  vidi 
Tutti  pien'd'onestate,  e  di  dolcezza — 

"  That  Laura's  beauty  existed  in  the  concep 
tion  of  the  Divinity  before  the  creation  of  the 
universe  "- 

In  qual  parte  del  Cielo,  in  quale  Idea 
Era  1'esempio? 

Yet  in  this  very  sonnet  which  developes  the 
Platonic  theory — "  that  all  objects  which  fall 
under  the  senses  of  mankind  are  only  copies  of 


82 


ON  THE  POETRY 


models  more  or  less  perfect,  which  have  exist 
ed  from  all  eternity  in  the  mind  of  the  Divi 
nity," — the  poet  abruptly  exclaims — "  Yet  all 
her  celestial  beauties  conspire  only  to  my 
guilty  death!" 

Bench'  e  la  somma  di  mia  morte  rea ! 

Thus  the  brilliancy  of  the  description  is  mas 
terly  shadowed  forth  with  a  single  line,  which 
reminds  us  that,  if  Laura  be  an  angel,  her 
lover  at  least  is  a  mortal,  who  suffers  like  our 
selves. 

X.  ONE  of  those  few  poets  whose  inspira 
tions  are  combined  with  a  sober  and  deep 
insight  into  the  mysteries  of  their  art,  has  ob 
served,  "  that  we  have  a  pleasure  in  the  poet's 
representations  of  life,  from  our  attachment  to 
life  itself:  all  imitations  of  objects  have  a  cer 
tain  value  to  the  mind,  as  the  resemblances 
and  records  of  a  perishable  existence*." — The 
truth  of  this  remark,  and  its  application  to 
works  of  imagination,  may  be  fully  understood 
by  any  person  who  considers,  that  our  attach 
ment  to  life  springs  from  the  consciousness  of 
our  existence: — that  such  consciousness  is  pro- 

*  CAMPBELL'S  Lectures  on  Poetry. 


OF  PETRARCH.  ^3 

duced  by  the  action  of  our  faculties: — that 
this  action  fatigues  and  exhausts  us : — and 
that  we,  therefore,  oppose  to  it  a  constant 
desire  of  repose.  We  can  thus  explain  our 
conflicting  propensities  to  restlessness  and  in 
action  under  which  all  men,  more  or  less, 
occasionally  labour.  I  believe  that  the  mo 
tion  and  the  equilibrium  of  our  intellectual 
faculties  is  sustained,  like  the  palpitation  of 
our  heart,  by  a  continual  oscillation  towards 
contrary  directions;  and  that  as  soon  as  that 
oscillation  stops,  life  ceases.  We  are  always 
seeking  repose,  and  for  this  very  reason  can 
never  obtain  it.  When  we  do  obtain  it  by 
absolute  inactivity,  our  existence  is  rendered 
wearisome;  and  it  is  then  that  we  tremble  at 
the  thought  that  life  is  passing  away,  and  at 
the  approach  of  the  only  real  calm,  which  is 
death.  Yet,  as  the  complete  repose  of  our 
faculties  stupifies  us,  so  the  violent  agitation  of 
our  own  passions  overwhelms  us  : — the  repre 
sentation  of  the  passions  of  others,  therefore, 
is  agreeable,  because  it  renders  us  conscious  of 
our  existence  by  exciting  but  not  distressing 
us,  and  conveys  to  us  at  once  the  pleasures  of 
agitation  and  repose.  The  representation  of 
love  has  the  greatest  influence  upon  mankind, 
because  the  other  passions,  the  seeds  of  which 


#4  ON  THE  POETRY 

are  contained  in  every  human  breast,  require 
the  aid  of  circumstances,  which  to  many  per 
sons  never  occur,  to  develope  them ;  whereas 
love  and  death  are,  as  Dante  says  of  the  sun, 
"  the  greatest  ministers  of  Nature;" — it  is  by 
love  only  that  she  can  reproduce  her  creations 
which  death  is  perpetually  destroying.  But 
love  is  seen,  by  almost  all  writers,  under  those 
outward  appearances  with  which  it  may  be 
incidentally  clothed  by  the  peculiar  manners 
of  each  nation  and  age.  Thus  novels  seldom 
please  the  next  generation,  because  they  re 
present  rather  the  accidental  and  transitory 
forms,  than  the  inward  nature,  of  love.  But 
when  a  great  poet  describes  his  own  heart, 
his  picture  of  love  will  draw  tears  from  the 
eyes  of  every  man  in  every  age.  Although 
Petrarch  raises  this  passion  to  the  level  of  his 
own  mind,  and  adorns  it  according  to  the  meta- 

\  physical  theories  and  the  manners  of  his  time, 
j  he  still  brings  before  our  eyes  many  resem- 

:y\  blances  and  records  of  our  own  feelings.  Per- 
,'haps  he  is  the  most  successful  among  those 
/  poets,  "  who  surprise  us  with  traits  of  nature 
that  have,  escaped  our  observation,  or  faded 
from  our  memories,  and  affect  us  as  if  they 
restored  to  us  a  lost  or  absent  friend,  with  all 
the  tender  illusion,  though  without  the  indis- 


OF  PETRARCH.  85 

tinctness,  of  a  dream/'  In  Petrarch's  poetry 
we  meet  with  every  little  circumstance  of  our 
passion — the  pains — the  pleasures — the  hopes 
— the  fears  we  have  experienced ;  and  some 
times  by  a  single  line  he  transports  us  back 
again  to  live  with  the  person  who  was  once 
dearest  to  us,  and  who  may  have  long  ago 
disappeared  from  our  eyes,  and  almost  from 
our  recollection.  The  loftiness  of  his  style 
and  the  ornament  of  his  images,  so  far  from 
repelling  us,  draw  us  to  him,  because  he  seems 
to  employ  every  effort  of  his  talents  to  make 
us  the  spectators  and  companions  of  his  happi 
ness  or  of  his  misery. — "  Here  she  sang  so 
sweetly ;  and  here  she  sat.  Here  she  turned, 
and  there  she  paused ;  here  her  beautiful  eyes 
penetrated  .my  soul,  and  here  she  spoke  to  me 
— there  she  smiled,  and  there  her  countenance 
changed.  With  such  thoughts  does  Love,  who 
is  thy  master  and  mine,  fill  my  mind  both 
night  and  day" — 

Qui  canto  dolcemente ;  e  qui  s'  assise  : 
Qui  si  rivolse,  e  qui  ritenne  il  passo ; 
Qui  co'  begli  occhi  mi  trafisse  il  core ; 

Qui  disse  una  parola,  e  qui  sorrise  ; 
Qui  cangio  il  viso.     In  questi  pensier,  lasso, 
^  otte  e  di  tiemmi  il  signer  nostro  Ainore. 


gg  ON  THE  POETRY 

XI.  IT  is  chiefly  in  the  expression  of  grief 
that  Petrarch  enters  into  every  heart,  and  that 
all  hearts  enter  into  his.  Neatness  of  diction 
— delicacy  of  sentiment — Platonic  ecstasy,  all 
yield  to  the  violence  of  his  grief;  and  we 
witness  the  dreadful  conflict  of  reason  with 
despair — of  passion  with  religion.  The  re 
membrance  of  his  love,  and  the  remorse  of  his 
guilty  desires,  penetrate  his  heart;  and  whilst 
he  seems  ready  to  destroy  himself,  he  is 
checked  by  the  fear  only  of  passing  from  one 
misery  to  a  greater — 

Se  sapessi  per  Morte  essere  scarce 
Del  pensier  amoroso  che  mi  atterra, 
Con  le  mie  mani  avrei  gia  posto  in  terra 
Queste  membra  dogliose  e  quello  incarco : 

Ma  perch'  io  temo  che  sarebbe  un  varco 
Di  pianto  in  pianto,  e  d'  una  in  altra  guerra — 

Oh!  if  this  cankering  thought — this  torturing  dream 
In  endless  death  these  hands  might  hope  to  close  ; 
Soon  should  my  wearied  limbs  on  earth  repose, 
And  the  damp  sod  a  welcome  bed  I'd  deem. 

But  still  I  fear  to  tempt  the  awful  stream, 
To  fly  from  strife  to  strife — from  woe  to  woes. 

When  he  seeks  consolation  from  Heaven,  from 
mankind,  and  from  all  the  objects  that  sur 
round  him,  our  sympathy  with  the  man  makes 
us  almost  forget  our  admiration  of  the  poet; 


OF  PETRARCH.  #7 

because  \ve  see,  that,  like  every  creature  who 
feels  extremely  miserable,  he  fancies  that  he 
has  inspired  all  nature  with  his  own  affliction — 

Poor  solitary  bird,  that  pour'st  thy  lay, 
Or  haply  mournest  the  sweet  season  gone  : 
As  chilly  night  and  winter  hurry  on, 
And  day-light  fades,  and  summer  flies  away  ; 

If  as  the  cares  that  swell  thy  little  throat, 
Thou  knew'st  alike  the  woes  that  wound  my  rest", 
Oh,  thou  wouldst  house  thee  in  this  kindred  breast, 
And  mix  with  mine  thy  melancholy  note. 

Yet  little  know  I  our's  are  kindred  ills : 
She  still  may  live  the  object  of  thy  song  : 
Not  so  for  me  stern  Death  or  Heaven  wills ! 

But  the  sad  season,  and  less  grateful  hour, 
And  of  past  joy  and  sorrow  thoughts  that  throng 
Prompt  my  full  heart  this  idle  lay  to  pour. — LADY  DACRE. 

Vago  augelletto,  che  cantando  vai, 
Ovver  piangendo  il  tuo  tempo  passato, 
Veggendoti  la  notte  e'l  verno  a  lato, 
E  '1  di  dopo  le  spalle,  e  i  mesi  gai ; 

Se  come  i  tuoi  gravosi  affanni  sai, 
Cosi  sapessi  il  mio  simile  stato  ; 
Verresti  in  grembo  a  questo  sconsolato 
A  partir  seco  i  dolorosi  guai. 

I'  non  so  se  le  parti  sarian  pari ; 
Che  quella  cui  tu  piangi  e  forse  in  vita  ; 
Di  ch'  a  me  Morte  e  '1  Ciel  son  tanto  avari : 

Ma  la  stagione  e  1'  ora  men  gradita, 
Col  membrar  de'  dolci  anni  e  degli  amari, 
A  parlar  teco  con  pieta  m'  invita. 


88  ON  THE  POETRY 

His  poetry  about  Laura  finishes  with  one  of 
his  most  beautiful  odes.  It  is  addressed  to 
the  blessed  Virgin,  whom  as  she  had  known 
human  affections,  and  had  combined  in  herself 
the  three  gentlest  dearest  names  on  earth — of 
mother,  daughter,  and  wife — he  hopes  will  be 
merciful  to  him — 

Tre  dolci  e  cari  nomi  hai  in  te  raccolti, 
Madre,  Figliuola,  e  Sposa. 

Then  with  a  sublimity  and  pathos  which  no 
poet  has  ever  surpassed,  he  implores,  through 
her  assistance,  that  he  may  cease  in  his  old 
age  to  lament  over  the  ashes  of  one  who  had 
filled  his  life  with  dangers  and  with  tears. 

XII.  ALTHOUGH  this  description  of  poetry 
had  been  in  use  with  the  Sicilians  and  the  Pro 
vencals  for  more  than  two  centuries,  it  was  sel 
dom  inspired  by  genius  or  passion.  Professional 
lovers  addressed  rhymes  to  their  mistresses, 
which  singers  and  wandering  troubadours  re 
peated  at  the  banquets  of  their  patrons.  Ac 
cording  to  Dante's  opinion  and  that  of  his 
friend  Guido  Cavalcanti,  they  were  rather  did' 
tori  per  rima,  than  deserving  of  the  name  of 
poets*.  No  sooner  was  Italian  poetry  en- 

*  Accio  che  non  ne  pigli  alcuna  baldanza  persona  grossa, 
dico  :  Che  ne  i  poeti  parlano  cosi  senza  ragione,  ne  quelli  che 
rimano  deono  parlare  cosi,  non  avendo  alcuno  ragionamento 


OF  PETRARCH.  89 

nobled  by  Platonic  speculations  on  love,  than 
the  predecessors  of  Petrarch  declared  that  vul 
gar  souls  were  neither  capable,  nor  worthy,  of 
being  initiated  into  such  a  passion.  Guido 
Cavalcanti,  when  a  lady  intreated  him  to  write 
on  the  sentiments  she  inspired,  professed  "  that 
he  could  not  expect  to  be  understood,  except 
by  elevated  minds" — 

Donna  mi  priega,  perch'  io  voglia  dire 
D'  un  accidente  che  sovente  e  fero 
Ed  e  si  altero  che  e  chiamato  Amore ; 

Si  chi  lo  niega  possa  il  ver  sentire! — 
Ed  io  non  spero  ch'uom  di  basso  core 
A  tal  ragione  porti  conoscenza. 

This  canzone  has  been  noticed  by  some  cele 
brated  commentators,  among  others  Pico  della 
Mirandola,  but  it  has  not  been  made  less  un 
intelligible.  Dante  has  himself  commented  on 
his  own  love-verses;  an  example  which  was 
followed  two  centuries  afterwards  by  Lorenzo 
de'  Medici,  whose  Theory  of  Love  is  one  of  the 
very  few  tracts  that  either  escaped  the  un 
wearied  researches,  or  did  not  deserve  the  no 
tice,  of  the  historian,  whose  illustrations  of  the 

in  loro  di  quello  che  dicono ;  pero  che  gran  vergogna  sarebbe 
a  colui  che  rimasse  cose  sotto  vesta  di  figura,  o  di  colore  ret- 
torico,  e  domandato,  non  sapesse  dinudare  le  sue  parole  da 
cotal  vesta,  in  guisa  che  avessero  verace  intendimento.  E 
questo  mio  primo  amico  ed  io  ne  sapemo  ben  di  quelli  che 
cosi  rimano  stoltamente. — DANTE,  Vita  nvoi'a. 


90 


ON  THE  POETRY 


age  of  the  Medici's  has  entitled  his  name  to 
the  gratitude  of  the  Italians*.  By  a  compa 
rison  of  some  verses,  in  which  Guido,  Dante, 
Petrarch,  and  Giusto  de  Conti,  describe  the 
supernatural  beauty  of  their  mistresses,  it  is 
easy  to  trace  the  progress  of  this  sort  of  poe 
try,  and  to  perceive  that  its  perfection  had 
been  nearly  attained  by  Dante f.  Petrarch 
subsequently  managed  it  in  a  way  that  no 
other  poet  has  ever  been  able  to  approach; 
but  he  has  no  claim  to  its  invention :  the  me 
trical  and  musical  laws  of  this  kind  of  lyric 
poetry  were  already  established  J.  Little  as  the 
Sonetti  and  Canzoni  may  appear  to  our  modern 
composers  of  operas  to  be  susceptible  of  music, 
it  is  not  on  that  account  the  less  true,  that 
these  terms  are  derived  from  Suono  and  Canto, 
and  that  poets  often  added  notes  of  music  to 
their  stanzas.  In  the  manuscripts  which  are 
still  preserved  at  Florence,  of  Franco  Sachetti 
and  other  contemporaries  of  Petrarch,  the  fol- 

*  APPENDIX,  No.  III. — I  must  express  my  personal  gra 
titude  to  Mr.  Roscoe,  for  having  sent  me,  whilst  occupied  in 
the  correction  of  this  sheet,  his  "  Illustrations,  historical 
and  critical,  of  the  Life  of  Lorenzo  de'  Medici,"  recently 
published,  in  which,  amongst  other  original  and  curious 
documents,  he  has  inserted  the  Tract  in  question. 

f  APPENDIX,  No.  IV. 

t  The  Summa  Artis  Rithmicx  by  Antonio  da  Tempo, 
date  1332. 


OF  1'ETRARCH.  ()J 

lowing  note  is  to  be  found  at  the  head  of  some 
of  their  sonnets:  Intonatum per  Francum — Scrip- 
tor  dedit  sonum.  The  system  of  Italian  music, 
by  counterpoint,  had  been  created  three  cen 
turies  before  their  age  by  Guido  d'Arezzo;  and 
it  is  only  in  our  days  that  it  has  been  rendered 
refined  and  complicated,  by  the  followers  of 
the  German  school.  Poetry  was  not  then  in 
Italy  the  mere  caput  mortuum  of  music ;  and 
the  human  voice,  instead  of  being  a  subor 
dinate  accessory  to  the  orchestra,  filled  the 
most  prominent  part,  and  was  accompanied  by 
inanimate  instruments,  only  so  far  as  was  ne 
cessary  to  support  it,  and  to  regulate  its  mo 
dulations.  The  words  might  then  strike  the 
ear  with  less  astonishment  than  the  tunes ;  but 
they  spoke  more  forcibly  to  the  heart  and 
more  usefully  to  the  mind.  Petrarch  poured 
forth  his  verses  to  the  sound  of  his  lute,  which 
he  bequeathed  in  his  will  to  a  friend*;  and 
his  voice  was  sweet,  flexible,  and  of  great 
compass  |.  All  the  love-poetry  of  his  pre 
decessors,  except  that  of  Cino,  wants  sweet 
ness  of  numbers;  but  the  sweetness  of  Pe- 

*  Magistro  Thomce  Bombasio  de  Ferraria  lego  leutum  meum 
bonum,  ut  eum  sonet,  non  pro  vanitate  sceculi  fugacis,  sed  ad 
laudem  Dei  ceterni. — Petr.  Testam. 

t  Doctus  insuper  Lyra  mire  cecinit — Fuit  vocis  sonorce  atque 
redundantis  suaritatis  tantce  atque  dukedinis. — PHIL.  VILLANI, 
Vit.  Petr. 


92  ON  THE  POETRY 

trarch  is  enlivened  with  a  variety,  a  rapi 
dity,  and  a  glow,  which  no  Italian  lyric  has 
ever  possessed  in  an  equal  degree.  The  power 
of  preserving,  and  at  the  same  time  of  diver 
sifying  the  rhythm,  belongs  to  him  alone — 
his  melody  is  perpetual,  and  yet  never  wea 
ries  the  ear.  His  canzoni  (a  species  of  compo 
sition  partaking  of  the  ode  and  the  elegy,  the 
character  and  form  of  which  are  exclusively 
Italian)  contain  stanzas  sometimes  of  twenty 
lines.  He  has  placed  the  cadences,  however,  in 
such  a  manner  as  to  allow  the  voice  to  rest  at 
the  end  of  every  three  or  four  verses,  and  has 
fixed  the  recurrence  of  the  same  rhyme  and  the 
same  musical  pauses  at  intervals  sufficiently 
long  to  avoid  monotony,  and  sufficiently  short 
to  preserve  harmony.  It  is  not  difficult,  there 
fore,  to  give  credit  to  Filippo  Villani,  when  he 
assures  us,  "  that  the  musical  modulation  of 
the  verses  which  Petrarch  addressed  to  Laura 
flowed  so  melodiously,  that  even  the  most 
grave  could  not  refrain  from  repeating  them*." 

XIII.  METASTASIO,  to  please  the  court  of 
Vienna,  the  musicians,  and  the  public  of  his 
day,  and  to  gratify  the  delicacy  of  his  own 

*  Tanta  siquidem  dul.cedine  rithmijlmint,  ut  ab  eorum  pronun- 
ciatione  et  sonis,  gravissimi  nesciebant  abstinere. — PHIL.  VIL 
LANI,  Vit.  Petr. 


OF  PETRARCH. 


93 


feminine  taste,  has  reduced  his  language  and 
versification  to  so  limited  a  number  of  words, 
phrases,  and  cadences,  that  they  seem  always 
the  same,  and  in  the  end  produce  only  the 
effect  of  a  flute,  which  conveys  rather  delight 
ful  melody  than  quick  and  distinct  sensations. 
Petrarch,  on  the  contrary,  has  not  only  vigo 
rously  grasped  and  beautifully  used  all  the 
abundance  of  words — all  the  variety  of  num 
bers — all  the  graces  and  energy  and  idioms  of 
his  own  language,  but  he  has  naturalized  those- 
of  the  Provencal  and  Spanish  poets.  No  term 
which  he  has  employed  is  become  obsolete; 
and  each  of  his  phrases  may  be,  and  still  is, 
written  without  quaintness.  At  the  same  time 
that  he  improves  the  materials  in  which  the 
Italian  language  already  abounded,  he  seems 
to  create  it  afresh,  for  it  was  in  reality  both 
native  and  foreign  to  him.  When  he  was  only 
nine  years  old,  he  was  taken  into  France, 
where  he  passed  his  youth,  and  the  greater 
portion  of  his  life.  His  parents,  from  whom 
he  might  have  acquired  the  Tuscan  idiom, 
died  when  he  was  still  a  youth.  In  the  fre 
quent  journeys  which  he  made  into  Italy, 
he  lived  every  where  for  considerable  periods 
except  at  Florence,  where  he  passed  only  three 
or  four  weeks.  In  order  to  form  a  style  which 
should  be  quite  his  own,  he  assures  us  that  he 


Q4,  ON  THE  POETRY 

never  possessed  a  copy  of  Dante's  great  poem, 
whose  diction  he  affects  to  despise*.  It  was 
only  near  the  close  of  his  life  that  Petrarch 
began  to  repent  of  not  having  availed  himself 
of  the  "vulgar  language," — "anew-discovered 
field  which  had  fallen  into  the  hands  of  un 
skilful  husbandmen,  and  which  still  remained 
to  be  cleared  f."  I  am  indebted  to  the  library 
and  liberality  of  my  Lord  Holland,  for  the  only 
specimen  I  have  ever  seen  of  the  Italian  prose 
of  Petrarch  J.  It  is  a  manuscript,  in  Petrarch's 
own  hand,  of  two  letters,  which,  far  from  pos 
sessing  the  elegance  and  grammatical  correct 
ness  of  Dante  and  Boccacio,  or  indeed  of  their 
minor  contemporaries,  are  remarkable  only 
for  the  warmth  of  feeling  and  perspicuity  of 
thought  peculiar  to  his  style.  If,  instead  of 
devoting  his  life  to  an  ancient  language,  in 
which  there  were  already  so  many  inimitable 
authors,  he  had  written  his  numerous  works  in 
Italian,  he  might  have  left  models  of  every  sort 
of  composition.  His  great  power  in  the  poetry 
of  a  language  which  he  had  cultivated  so  little, 
is  one  of  those  secret  wonders  which  genius 

*  See  the  Epistle  of  Boccace  to  Petrarch :  Italia'  jam  cer- 
tus  honor. 

t  Hie  fiilgaris  stylus  modo  inventns,  rastatoribus  crebris,  ft 
mdlo  squalUdus  colono. — Senilium  Lib.  5.  Ep.  2.  3. 

I  APPENDIX,  No.  V. 


OF  PETHARCH.  95 

works  unconsciously  even  to  him  who  pos 
sesses  it ;  as  seeds  which  chance  has  scattered 
in  some  congenial  spot,  will  sometimes  spon 
taneously  quicken  to  greater  luxuriance,  than 
the  most  industrious  art  could  have  effected  in 
a  less  favoured  soil. 

XIV.  THE  important  object  of  Petrarch's 
study  and  ambition  was  to  dissipate  the  dark 
ness  which,  during  the  middle  ages,  had  enve 
loped  the  literature  of  the  ancients.  But  what 
genius  and  ardour  could  have  been  equal  to 
the  magnitude  of  this  undertaking?  He  has  so 
far  succeeded,  however,  in  clearing  the  road 
to  the  study  of  antiquity  as  to  acquire  the 
title,  which  he  still  justly  retains,  of  the  Re 
storer  of  Classical  Learning — •"  Are  you  not 
ashamed,"  wrote  he  to  the  Romans,  "  that  the 
wrecks  of  your  ancient  grandeur,  spared  by 
the  inundation  of  the  Barbarians,  are  daily 
sold  by  your  miscalculating  avarice  to  fo 
reigners  ?  And  that  Rome  is  no  where  less 
known  and  less  loved  than  in  Rome*?"  Nor 
did  the  enthusiasm  of  Petrarch  for  ancient 
monuments  prevent  him  from  describing  them 
with  the  taste  of  a  critic  |.  He  set  the  first 
example  of  collecting  medals  as  the  best  guides 

*   Hortatio  ad  Nicol.  Laurent.      Petr.  Op.  vol   i   p.  596. 
t  Famil.  Lib.  6.  ep.  2. 


gg  ON  THE  POETRY 

through  the  labyrinth  of  chronologies  and  ge 
nealogies  of  dynasties  disappeared  from  the 
world.  We  still  reap  the  benefit  of  those  ma 
nuscripts  which  he  indefatigably  sought  after 
in  every  corner  of  Europe*,  and  multiplied 
without  sparing  money  when  he  was  poor,  or 
labour  when  he  was  old  and  infirm ;  and  such 
was  his  anxiety  for  their  correctness  that  he 
often  submitted  to  the  drudgery  of  a  trans 
criber.  He  found  the  Latin  language, 

Not  verdant  then 

With  foliage,  but  of  dusky  hue;   not  light 
The  boughs  and  tapering,  but  with  knares  deform'd 
And  matted  thick :  fruits  there  were  none,  but  thorns. 

Yet  under  his  toils  it  revived  with  a  freshness 
which  made  him  to  be  looked  upon  as  having 
brought  back  the  Augustan  age — a  merit,  how 
ever,  which  the  united  and  incessant  exertions 
of  six  generations  of  learned  men,  from  his 
times  to  those  of  Leo  X.,  have  scarcely  at 
tained.  Still,  those  whose  claim  to  the  title 
of  accomplished  scholars  rests  on  elegancies 
painfully  gleaned  from  the  classics,  are  not 
justified  in  sneering  at  the  latinity  of  Pe 
trarch.  It  seems  that  in  modelling  his  style 
upon  the  Romans,  he  was  unwilling  to  neg- 

*  De  Rem.  utriusque  fortunae.  Lib.  1. 


OF  PETRARCH.  y7 

lect  entirely  the  Fathers  of  the  Church,  whose 
phraseology  was  more  appropriate  to  his  sub 
jects  ;  and  the  public  affairs  being,  at  that  pe 
riod,  transacted  in  Latin,  he  could  not  always 
reject  many  of  those  expressions  which,  al 
though  originating  from  barbarous  ages,  had 
been  sanctioned  by  the  adoption  of  all  the  Uni 
versities,  and  were  the  more  intelligible  to  his 
readers.  In  sacrificing  purity,  he  gained  free 
dom,  fluency,  and  warmth;  and  his  prose, though 
not  a  model  for  imitation,  is  beyond  the  reach 
of  imitators,  because  it  is  original  and  his  own. 

XV.  IN  Latin  poetry,  Petrarch  could  not  be 
successful  while  its  natural  beauties  were  so 
slightly  felt,  that  he  himself,  in  his  youth,  was 
guilty  of  writing  hexameters  in  rhyme*.  The 
pronunciation,  from  which  all  the  metrical  sys 
tems  of  the  ancients  sprang,  had  already  ex 
perienced  so  great  a  change,  that  he  was  often 
obliged  to  guess,  and  not  always  happily,  at 
the  quantity  of  syllables.  Had  he  possessed 
the  highest  poetical  powers  which  Nature  ever 
granted  to  a  mortal,  he  could  not  have  been, 
in  a  dead  language,  a  more  than  ordinary  poet. 
The  magical  combination  of  harmony,  splen- 

*  APPENDIX,  No.  I. 
ii 


gg  ON  THE  POETRY 

dour,    freshness,    energy,    spirit,    pathos,   and 
grace  in  describing  every  object  of  creation, 
however  insignificant — every  obscure  and  fleet 
ing  idea,  and  all  the  commonest  feelings  of  the 
heart,  is  effected  only  by  words;  but  it  can 
never  be  effected  unless  the  poet  masters  his 
diction  so  absolutely  as  to  re-cast  it  into  a  lan 
guage  of  his  own  creation ;  and  this  is,  perhaps, 
the  grand  advantage  by  which  the  early  poets 
have  outstripped  all  their  successors.     But  the 
more  the  laws  of  a  language  become  unalter 
able,  the  more  is  genius  cramped  by  fetters; 
and  if  voluntarily  chosen,  it  deserves  no  sym 
pathy.    Petrarch,  however,  submitted  to  them, 
as  the  only  means  of  commanding  the  admira 
tion  of  Europe ;  and  he  obtained  it.     For  his 
coronation  in  the  Capitol  he  was  indebted  to 
the  first  books  of  his  AFRICA,  an  epic  poem 
on  the  exploits  of  Scipio.     While  the  ballad- 
singers  gained  a  livelihood  by  chaunting  his 
sonnets  in  the  public  streets,  the  learned  con 
sidered  them  scarcely  worthy  of  his  powers, 
and    were    proud    to    enrich    their    libraries 
with   a  fragment  of  that   poem.      "  I  deny" 
—  he   wrote   to   Boccacio  —  "but    I   deny  in 
vain :  he  whom  I  refuse  sends  first  one  inter 
cessor,  then  he  sends  another.     The  importu 
nity  is  at  once  so  ingenuous  and  so  modest! 


OF  PETRARCH.  99 

I  could  not  carry  my  refusal  so  far  as  to  offend 
the  rights  of  friendship,  and  yielded  at  last.  If 
I  rightly  remember,  I  gave  him  about  thirty- 
four  lines  from  the  AFRICA  ;  and  as  they  de 
manded  still  more  time  and  correction,  I 
warmly  insisted  that  no  other  person  should 
see  them,  which  he  as  warmly  promised ;  but 
which  he  forgot  to  observe,  if  I  mistake  not, 
the  same  day*."  These  verses  are  to  be  found 
among  those  Miscellanea  which,  before  the  dif 
fusion  of  learning,  were  ascribed  at  one  time  to 
the  real,  at  another  to  apocryphal,  authors, — 
and  as  they  relate  to  the  death  of  Mago,  the  bro 
ther  of  Hannibal,  a  transcriber  of  the  fifteenth 
century  attributed  them  to  Silius  Italicus, 
whose  poem  on  the  Carthaginian  war  had  been 
recently  discovered  by  Poggio.  About  three 
hundred  and  fifty  years  later,  a  French  cri 
tic,  in  re-editing  this  poem,  charged  Petrarch 
with  having  found  and  suppressed  it,  and  in 
order  that  his  plagiarisms  might  remain  still 
more  effectually  concealed,  with  having  adul 
terated  the  purity  of  the  original  lines  f.  After 

*  Senil.  Lib.  11.  Epist.  1. 

t  Habe  Silium  cultiorem,  egregio  auctumfragmento,  quod  sibi 
minus  rerecunde,  nonnullis  mutatis,  TindicuTeraf,  suoquepoemati 
Africce  VI.  adsuere  non  est  veritus  Fr.  Petrarca. — LEFEBVRE 
VILLEBRUNE,  Epist.  ad  Villoison  praefix.  ad  Silii  edit.  Lute- 
tiae,  1781. 

H  2 


100  ON  THE  POETRY 

emending  the  episode  of  the  death  of  Mago, 
the  critic  inserted  it  in  the  sixteenth  book  of 
Silius;  without,  however,  expunging  those  pas 
sages  from  the  following  books  in  which  Mago 
re-appears  living.  Besides,  in  the  sixth  book 
of  the  AFRICA,  Mago  speaks  and  dies  more 
like  a  gray-haired  philosopher  than  a  young 
hero  ;  and  whatever  traits  of  individual  cha 
racter  he  displays  belong  to  Petrarch,  with 
whom  it  was  hardly  possible  to  write  a  sen 
tence  without  pourtraying  himself.  This  in 
ternal  evidence  is  more  convincing  in  the  trans 
lation,  by  a  great  poet  of  our  age*;  and  from 
the  original  annexed  to  it,  scholars  will  pro 
nounce  whether  any  conjectural  emendations 
could  grace  this  fragment  with  the  elegance  of 
Silius  —  the  least  imaginative  of  poets,  but  the 
only  one  who  approaches  the  language  and 
versification  of  Virgil. 


XVI.  THE  more  discoveries  Petrarch  made 
of  the  works  of  the  ancients,  the  more  compe 
tent  he  became  to  judge  of  their  excellence; 
and  so  deeply  he  felt  their  superiority,  that 
those  Latin  poems  in  which  for  so  many  years 
had  reposed  all  his  hopes  of  glory,  caused 

*  APPENDIX,  No.  I. 


OF  PETRARCH.  101 

him  in  the  end  an  inward  mortification,  which 
the  applauses  of  the  world  only  served  to 
betray*.  On  hearing  some  lines  of  the  AFRICA 
repeated  at  Verona,  Petrarch  burst  into  tears 
of  shame  t-  The  copies  circulated  after  his 
death  could  not  have  been  taken  from  the 
manuscript  which  he  had  prepared,  but  which 
he  had  not  the  courage  to  publish,  and  soon 
after  threw  into  the  fire  —  "  Seldom  has  a 
father  felt  more  agony  in  placing  the  corpse 
of  his  only  son  on  the  pile,  than  I  have 
felt  in  destroying  all  my  labours:  think  on 
it,  and  you  will  hardly  refrain  from  tears  J." 
His  several  eclogues  and  elegies,  and  his  trea 
tises ON  HIS  OWN  IGNORANCE  AND  THAT 

OF    MANY    OTHERS ON     MEMORABLE    EVENTS, 

particularly    of  his   own  time — ON  REMEDIES 

FOR    PROSPERITY    AND     MISERY ON     THE     AD- 

*  Quotiescumque  Africx  nientio  incidisset,  toties  conturbaba- 
tur,  molest  icnnq  tie  mente  concceptam,  forts  fades  indicabat.— 
VERGERIUS  Senior,  Vita  Petr. 

t  Trovandosi  il  Petrarca  in  Verona,  e  sentendo  cantare  i 
versi  dell'  Africa,  pianse  dolendosi  non  poterla  nascondere 
affatto. — BECCADELLI,  Vita  del  Petr. 

I  Rarb  unquam  pater  aliquis  tain  ma:stus  Jilium  itnicum  in 
rogum  minit :  quanta  id  fecerim  dolore,  et  omnes  labores  nteos  eo 
in  opere  perditos,  acriter  tecum  vokas,  vix  ipse  lachrymas  conti- 
neas. — These  words  are  repeated  by  Vergerius,  who  was 
living  at  Padua  at  the  same  time  that  Petrarch  was. 


100  ON  THE  POETRY 

MINISTRATION     OF      A     COMMONWEALTH ON 

THE     DUTIES     OF     A     COMMANDER     OF      ARMIES 

— AN  ITINERARY  THROUGH  SYRIA — an  unfi 
nished  series  of  LIVES  OF  ILLUSTRIOUS  RO 
MANS  FROM  ROMULUS  TO  TlTUS  APOLOGIES 

and  INVECTIVES  against  his  adversaries — all 
these,  besides  some  others  that  remain  still  in- 
edited,  are  probably  the  lesser  portion  of  his 
Latin  volumes.  Whilst  he  was  composing,  he 
fancied  himself  the  Achilles,  and  when  he  was 
revising,  the  Thersites,  of  authors ;  and  often, 
when  the  death  of  his  friends  impressed  him 
more  deeply  with  the  vanity  of  life,  he  burned 
his  writings*.  The  only  one  for  which  he  con 
tinued  to  have  a  constant  predilection  was  his 
book,  ON  SOLITUDE,  which  he  called  Liber 
maxlmus  rerum  mearum.  He  added  another,  ON 

THE     PEACEABLE     LIFE     OF     MONKS,    which    he 

addressed  to  his  younger  brother  Gerardo,  who 
having  experienced  all  the  joys  and  disap 
pointments  of  youth,  retired,  after  the  death  of 
a  beloved  mistress,  to  end  his  days  in  a  Car 
thusian  monastery — "  My  brother  and  my 
self,"  Petrarch  exclaimed  after  Laura's  death, 

*  Incredibilem  rem  audies,  I'eram  tamen,  mille  rel  amplhis  seu 
omnis  generis  sparsa  pocmata  seu  f ami! lares  epistolas — Vulcano 
corrigenda  tradidi  non  sine  suspiriis.  Petr.  apud  Tomasinum, 
f.  28. 


OF  PETRARCH.  103 

"  were  fettered  alike.  Thy  hand,  O  my  God! 
hath  burst  our  chains  asunder :  but  are  we 
both  delivered?  He,  indeed,  hath  escaped*." 
It  was  then  that  he  destroyed  many  letters 
in  which  he  entertained  his  intimate  friends 
about  Laura :  but  being  aware  that  others 
were  preserved  and  copied,  he  collected  a 
great  number  of  them,  foreseeing,  perhaps, 
that  they  would  ultimately  preserve  his  Latin 
writings  from  neglect. 

XVII.  BEFORE  he  was  absolutely  disgusted 
with  society,  Petrarch  travelled,  "  examining 
every  thing  with  unwearied  attention,  observ 
ing  the  manners  and  characters  of  nations,  and 
drawing  comparisons  between  all  other  Euro 
pean  countries  and  Italyf."  The  early  steps  of 
his  own  country  towards  civilization,  and  its 
present  decrepitude,  justify  both  the  exagge 
rated  patriotism  of  PetrarchJ,  and  the  severe 
censures  of  modern  statesmen,  which  though 
sometimes  just,  are  rarely  equitable.  Those 

*  Cum  ego  et  f rater  meus  gemino  laqueo  teneremur,  utrumque 
contrii'it  manus  tua:  sed  non  ambo  pariter  liberati  siimus :  ille 
qiiidem  ei'olai'it. — Epist.  Var.  28. 

•f  Cuncta  circumsjiicien.s,  lidendi  cupidus  explorandique — con- 
teniplatus  sollicitd  mores  hominurn — singula  cum  nostris  confe- 
rens. — Famil.  Lib.  1.  epist.  3.  4. — Lib.  5.  epist.  4. 

J  Senil.  Lib.  9.  ep.  1 . 


]Q4  ON  THE  POETRY 

whose  minds  can  survey  the  human  race  in  all 
its  vicissitudes  and  epochs,  know  that  seasons 
of  glory  and  calamity  are  appointed  for  every 
nation,  and  judge  them  with  candour.  Yet 
although  Petrarch  raises  his  countrymen  at 
the  expense  of  foreigners,  he  evinces  rather 
the  confidence  of  a  practical  observer,  than 
the  conceited  positiveness  of  a  professional 
author  of  travels;  and  considering  the  informa 
tion  we  may  still  gather  from  his  correspond 
ence  on  the  events,  manners,  and  characters 
of  his  age,  he  deserves  to  be  placed  amongst 
the  earliest  and  most  enlightened  travellers  of 
Europe.  These  letters  are  still  unpublished ; 
and  some  others  are  only  confusedly  arranged 
in  all  the  editions;  many  are  to  be  found  quoted 
at  considerable  length  by  old  historians.  He 
was  not  only  an  eye-witness,  but  his  remarks, 
by  often  seeming  to  be  the  effect  of  sudden 
and  powerful  impressions,  bear  a  stamp  of  sin 
cerity.  The  following  is  a  translation  of  one  of 
his  letters  to  Cardinal  Colonna,  which  Angelo 
de  Costanzo  inserted  in  his  History  of  Naples — 

*  Hsec  ter  a  te,  Didyme,  recitata  sint  super  terram  pa- 
truum  nostrorum,  ut  misereantur  sui  omnes:  nam  sicut  au- 
tumnus  et  hiems,  sic  gloria  et  calamitas  visitant,  certis  tem- 
pestatibus  saeculorum,  singulos  populos  tcrrae. — DIDYMI  CLJE- 
RICI  Hypercalypseos,  cap.  18.  ver.  46. 


OF  PETRARCH.  105 

"  HORACE,  wishing  to  describe  a  violent 
tempest,  gave  it  the  appellation  of  a  POETI 
CAL  TEMPEST;  and  it  seems  to  me  that  he 
could  not  more  concisely  or  happily  have  re 
presented  its  terrible  sublimity;  because  nei 
ther  sky  nor  ocean  can  in  its  rage  produce  an 
effect  which  may  not  be  equalled  or  surpassed 
by  the  descriptions  of  poetry ;  and,  if  ever  I 
have  leisure,  I  will  make  yesterday's  storm  the 
subject  of  my  verse. 

"  It  was  indeed  one  general  commotion  of 
the  Mediterranean  and  Adriatic;  but  I  will  call 
it  the  Neapolitan  tempest,  because  it  found 
me,  against  my  will,  in  the  port  of  Naples ; 
and,  since  the  eagerness  of  the  courier  to  de 
part  leaves  me  not  time  enough  to  record  it 
fully,  I  beg  you  will  be  assured  that  no  man 
ever  beheld  the  elements  of  earth  and  water  in 
more  fearful  conspiracy. 

"  This  visitation  from  heaven  was  foretold, 
several  days  before  its  occurrence,  by  the 
bishop  of  a  little  neighbouring  island,  who  rest 
ed  his  prediction  on  certain  astronomical  calcu 
lations  ;  but,  as  it  rarely  happens  that  prophets 
penetrate  the  whole  truth  of  any  future  event, 
so  he  unluckily  announced  as  the  completion 
of  the  catastrophe,  '  that  a  terrible  earthquake 
would  ensue,  by  which  Naples  itself  would  be 


]Q6  ON  THE  POETRY 

destroyed,  on  the  25th  of  November.'  This 
advertisement  obtained  so  much  credit,  that 
the  greater  part  of  the  inhabitants  actually 
gave  up  every  other  consideration  to  the  grand 
concerns  of  religion,  imploring  the  mercy  of 
God,  and  his  forgiveness  of  their  past  offences, 
as  if  the  following  day  were  infallibly  to  be 
their  last.  On  the  other  hand,  many  laughed 
at  the  idle  prediction,  observing  how  little 
faith  was  due  to  astrologers,  the  more  espe 
cially  as  only  a  few  days  had  passed  since  the 
last  earthquake.  In  the  midst  of  these  appre 
hensions  and  encouragements,  (of  which  the 
former  however  predominated)  I  retired,  on 
the  evening  of  the  24th,  just  before  sunset,  to 
my  apartment,  and  in  my  way  thither  met 
almost  all  the  females  of  the  City  (in  whom 
the  sense  of  shame  had  been  swallowed  up 
by  that  of  danger)  bare-footed  and  with  hair 
dishevelled,  crowding  to  the  churches,  with 
their  babes  in  their  arms,  crying  and  imploring 
God  for  mercy.  As  night  came  on,  the  sky 
was  more  than  usually  serene.  My  servants 
went  to  bed  immediately  after  supper.  For 
my  own  part,  I  proposed  to  stay  up  and  watch 
the  setting  of  the  moon,  at  that  time  (I  think) 
in  her  first  quarter.  The  window  which  looks 
to  the  west  was  left  open,  and  I  saw  her  as 


OF  PETRARCH.  107 

about  midnight  she  hid  herself  behind  St.  Mar 
tin's  mount,  her  face  much  darkened,  and  par 
tially  covered  by  clouds.  I  then  closed  the 
window,  and  stretched  myself  on  my  bed, 
where  after  lying  for  some  time  awake,  I  was 
just  falling  asleep,  when  I  was  roused  by  the 
noise  of  an  earthquake.  The  casement  was 
burst  open,  the  light  which  I  always  keep 
burning  in  my  chamber,  was  extinguished,  and 
the  whole  house  shook  to  its  very  foundations. 
In  this  state,  between  sleeping  and  waking, 
and  assailed  by  the  terror  of  impending  de 
struction,  I  ran  to  the  cloisters  of  the  monas 
tery  in  which  I  reside,  and  where  we  groped 
about  in  the  dark  (having  only  the  glimmering 
of  one  dull  lamp  to  direct  us)  to  receive  and 
administer  whatever  consolation  was  in  our 
power.  Here  we  were  shortly  met  by  the 
abbot — a  very  pious  man — -with  his  monks  in 
procession,  who,  terrified  by  the  tempest,  were 
bearing  the  holy  cross  and  reliques  of  saints, 
and  preceded  by  lighted  torches,  with  devout 
prayers  and  exclamations,  in  their  way  to  the 
church  to  sing  matins  to  the  Virgin.  This 
having  inspired  me  with  courage,  I  accompa 
nied  them  to  the  church,  where  we  all  with 
one  accord  threw  ourselves  prostrate  on  the 
ground,  and  did  nothing  else  but  with  loud 


108  ON  THE  POETRY 

uplifted  voices  implore  the  divine  mercy  and 
forgiveness,  expecting  every  minute  the  sacred 
building  to  fall,  and  bury  us  in  its  ruins. 

"  it  would  be  much  too  long  to  recount  all 
the  horrors  of  that  infernal  night;  and  although 
the  truth  very  far  exceeds  all  power  of  de 
scription,  yet  I  fear  to  be  thought  guilty  of 
exaggeration  when  I  exclaim,  What  deluges  of 
water!  what  wind!  what  thunder!  what  terri 
ble  rumbling  in  the  heavens !  what  fearful  trem 
blings  of  the  earth !  what  vehement  commotion 
in  the  sea!  what  shrieks  of  amazed  and  dis 
tracted  multitudes!  The  long  night  seemed 
extended  by  magic  art  to  twice  its  actual  du 
ration;  and  when  morning  came,  its  approach 
was  announced  to  us  rather  by  the  clock,  than 
by  any  corresponding  light  in  the  firmament. 
The  priests  robed  themselves  for  the  celebra 
tion  of  mass,  while  we,  not  having  courage  to 
lift  our  faces  to  heaven,  remained  stretched  on 
the  ground  in  prayer  and  supplication.  Though 
day  had  broke,  it  was  still  as  dark  as  night. 
The  multitudes  in  the  upper  part  of  the  city 
had  begun  to  disperse ;  but  towards  the  sea 
shore  the  noise  seemed  to  increase,  and  the 
clattering  of  horses  was  heard  in  the  street 
below.  What  this  could  mean  it  was  impos 
sible  to  ascertain ;  but,  made  bold  by  despair, 


OF  PETRARCH,  1()9 

I   at  last  mounted    on   horseback   myself,  re 
solved  to  see,  even  though  I  should  perish. 

"  Great  God!  who  ever  heard  of  such  things 
as  I  then  beheld  ?  The  oldest  seamen  declared 
that  the  like  was  never  before  witnessed.  In 
the  midst  of  the  port  were  seen  an  infinite 
number  of  poor  wretches  scattered  about  on 
the  sea,  and  struggling  to  gain  the  shore,  who, 
by  the  violence  and  fury  of  the  waves,  were 
battered  about  till  they  looked  like  so  many 
eggs  dashed  to  pieces  on  the  beach.  The 
whole  space  was  filled  with  drowned  and  half- 
drowned  bodies — some  with  their  sculls  frac 
tured — others  with  broken  arms  or  legs — 
others  with  their  bowels  gushing  out :  and  the 
screams  of  men  and  women  who  lived  near  the 
beach  were  no  less  terrific  than  the  uproar  of 
the  elements.  The  very  sands,  on  which,  the 
day  before,  you  walked  in  ease  and  safety, 
were  become  more  dangerous  than  the  faro  of 
Messina,  or  the  whirlpool  of  Charybdis.  A 
thousand,  or  more,  of  the  Neapolitan  nobility 
came  to  the  shore,  on  horseback,  as  if  to  so 
lemnize  the  funeral  obsequies  of  their  country ; 
and,  when  I  found  myself  among  them,  I  began 
to  be  of  better  cheer,  seeing  that,  if  I  were 
doomed  to  perish,  I  should  die  with  the  honour 
of  knighthood.  Soon  the  dreadful  rumour  came 


HO  ON  THE  POETRY 

to  our  ears,  that  the  ground  on  which  we  trod 
had  been  undermined  by  the  sea,  and  was  be 
ginning  to  open.  We  fled  precipitately,  and 
saved  ourselves ;  but  the  spectacle  we  then 
beheld,  was  the  most  terrible  ever  witnessed 
by  mortal  eye — the  heavens  so  commingled ! 
the  sea  so  implacably  turbulent !  the  waves 
mountain-high — and  in  colour  neither  black 
nor  blue,  as  in  more  ordinary  tempests,  but 
perfectly  white,  like  hills  of  snow,  rolling  over 
the  whole  expanse  from  Capri  to  Naples. 

"  The  young  Queen,  bare-footed,  and  at 
tended  by  a  numerous  train  of  females,  went 
to  visit  the  churches  dedicated  to  the  blessed 
Virgin.  No  vessel  in  the  harbour  was  capable 
of  resisting  the  violence  of  the  gale ;  and  three 
gallies  which  had  arrived  from  Cyprus,  and 
were  to  depart  that  morning,  were  seen  by 
sympathizing  thousands  to  go  down  without  a 
soul  being  saved.  Three  other  large  ships, 
which  had  anchored  in  the  port,  struck  against 
each  other,  and  sunk,  and  all  on  board  pe 
rished.  Of  all  the  vessels,  one  only  escaped, 
on  board  of  which  were  no  less  than  four 
hundred  galley-slaves  who  had  been  engaged 
in  the  Sicilian  war ;  by  the  strength  of  these 
malefactors  alone  the  ship  being  enabled  to 
stem  the  fury  of  the  overwhelming  element ; 


OF  PETRARCH.  HI 

and  even  they  were  quite  exhausted,  when,  at 
the  approach  of  night,  beyond  all  hope,  and 
contrary  to  the  universal  expectation,  the  sky 
cleared,  the  wind  abated,  and  the  sea  grew 
calm.  Thus  the  most  infamous  of  the  sufferers 
are  those  alone  who  escaped  a  watery  grave. 
Alas !  that  the  words  of  Lucan  should  have 
thus  proved  true — '  that  fortune  favours  the 
wicked,' — or  that  such  is  the  pleasure  of  God 
— or  that  they,  who  in  the  hour  of  trial  are 
most  indifferent  whether  they  live  or  die,  are 
the  securest  from  danger !  This  is  the  history 
of  yesterday." — November  the  27th,  1343. 

XVIII.  IN  the  numerous  letters  written  by 
Petrarch  towards  the  decline  of  life,  and  ar 
ranged  by  him  under  the  title  of  EPISTOL^E 
SENILES,  the  old  solitary  man,  while  convers 
ing  with  his  most  intimate  friends,  intended  to 
be  heard  by  the  world.  They  are  full  of  pathos 
and  wisdom ;  of  pedantry  and  eloquence ;  of 
Christian  self-denial  and  puerile  self-compla 
cency  :  and  there  is  a  continual  struggle  be 
tween  his  natural  frankness  and  the  caution  of 
age.  However,  his  correspondents  were  in 
debted  to  him  for  a  profusion  of  quotations, 
which,  in  the  scarcity  of  books  in  that  age, 
made  them  acquainted  with  many  passages  of 


H2  ON  THE  POETRY 

classical  writers.  Possibly  they  indulged,  al 
most  as  much  as  we  do,  in  gossiping  about 
all  the  concerns,  great  and  small,  public  and 
personal,  historical  and  fabulous,  of  their  cele 
brated  contemporaries;  but  editors  of  monthly 
and  quarterly  publications,  of  daily  newspa 
pers,  and  of  biographical  dictionaries  of  the 
dead  and  the  living,  had  not  as  yet  either 
the  professional  inducements  or  the  means  to 
penetrate  into  the  privacy  of  domestic  retire 
ment.  Petrarch,  allured  by  the  idea  that  his 
celebrity  would  magnify  into  importance  all 
the  ordinary  occurrences  of  his  life,  satisfied 
the  curiosity  both  of  his  friends  and  foes  by 
seriously  telling  them,  how 

He  did  all  natural  functions  of  a  man, 

Ate,  drank,  and  slept,  and  put  his  raiment  on— 

which  has  afforded  this  advantage  at  any  rate, 
that  our  information  is  not  apocryphal,  and 
that  we  possess  the  materials  for  the  most  inte 
resting  of  histories — the  history  of  the  mind  of 
a  man  of  genius, — but  he  still  requires,  what  he 
has  never  yet  had  the  good  fortune  to  find,  a 
man  of  genius  for  his  historian.  In  Petrarch's 
letters,  as  well  as  in  his  poems  and  trea 
tises,  we  always  identify  the  author  with 
the  man  who  felt  himself  irresistibly  impelled 


OF  PETRARCH.  113 

to  develope  his  own  intense  feelings.     Being  ^ 
endowed  with  almost  all  the  noble,  and  with      1 
some  of  the  paltry  passions,  of  our  nature,  and    / 
having  never  attempted   to  conceal  them,  he    ( 
awakens  us  to  reflection  upon  ourselves,  while       i 
we  contemplate  in  him  a  being  of  our   own      / 
species,  yet   different  from    every  other,   and    J 
whose  originality  excites  even  more  sympathy 
than  admiration. 


AN  ESSAY 


ON    THE    CHARACTER 


PETRARCH. 


AN    ESSAY 
ON    THE    CHARACTER 

OF 

PETRARCH. 


E    LE    COSE    PRESENTI    E    LE    PASSATE 
MI    DANNO    GUERRA    E    LE    FUTURE. 

PETR.  P.  II.  Son.  4. 

I.  ABOUT  a  year  before  his  acquaintance 
with  Laura,  Petrarch  entered  the  house  of 
James  Colonna,  Bishop  of  Lombes,  by  whom 
he  was  introduced  to  his  brother  John,  the 
Cardinal,  and  appointed  tutor  to  one  of  their 
nephews ;  but  he  was  soon  considered  as  an 
independent  friend,  so  much  so,  that  Stefano 
Colonna,  the  head  of  the  family  of  the  greatest 
power  at  Rome,  and  of  the  greatest  influence 
at  Avignon,  regarded  him  as  his  own  son*. 
At  this  time  Avignon  was  the  centre  of  at- 

*  Hujus  fitmUue  magnanimum  genitorem  ita  colui,  atque  ita 
sibi  accept  us  fui,  ut  inter  me  et  quemlibet  JUiorum  nil  diceres  in- 
teresse. — Ep.  ad  Post. 


118  ON  THE  CHARACTER 

traction  for  men  of  rank  and  talent  from  all 
nations :  Richard  of  Bury,  afterwards  bishop 
of  Durham,  was  there  Ambassador  of  Ed 
ward  III.  Hence  Petrarch  had  early  oppor 
tunities  of  acquiring  the  friendship  of  the  most 
eminent  characters  then  in  Europe,  and  a  more 
than  ordinary  insight  into  the  literary  and  poli 
tical  state  of  the  world.  In  his  thirty-fourth  year 
he  obtained  from  Benedict  XII. ,  through  the 
Cardinal's  interest,  an  ecclesiastical  benefice*; 
and  retired  to  Vaucluse,  as  to  a  quiet  haven, 
where  he  might  live  unmolested  by  love  and 
ambition,  and  untainted  with  the  depravities 
of  that  court. — "  Reverend  and  most  dignified 
prelate,  my  much  honoured  lord,"  says  Pe 
trarch  to  the  Bishop  of  Lombes,  in  a  letter, 
which  is  here  published  for  the  first  timef, 
"  you  invite  me  to  settle  at  the  court  of  Rome 
in  Avignon,  and  fill  me  with  the  most  brilliant 
hopes  of  advancement.  Now,  had  I  not  pre 
viously  received  many  the  most  unequivocal 
proofs  of  your  great  kindness  and  affection,  I 
might  feel  disposed  to  look  upon  you  as  the 

*  Literarum  scientia,  morum  honestas,  et  alia  multiplicia 
merita  probitatis — nee  non  consideratione  dilecti  filii  nostri 
Johannis  Cardinalis  pro  te  Capdlano  continvo  commensali  suo 
humiliter  supplicanti. — BENEDICTI  XII.  Bull,  ad  Petr.  an. 
1335. 

t  APPENDIX,  No.  V. 


OF  PETRARCH.  1  JtJ 

bitterest  enemy  your  unfortunate  friend  Francis 
could  possibly  have  in  this  world.  From  the 
different  conversations  we  have  frequently  had 
together,  you  cannot  be  ignorant  of  the  great 
promises  I  have  at  times  had  from  his  holiness 
Pope  John ;  insomuch  as  to  raise  in  my  mind 
a  fair  expectation  of  being  speedily  promoted 
to  some  elevated  post ;  and  yet  here  I  am,  and 
here  I  shall  ever  remain,  that  poor  unfortunate 
wretch  Petrarch.  Your  long  experience  in  the 
world  must  have  clearly  manifested  to  you, 
that  nothing  is  more  fallacious  and  deceitful 
than  the  flattering  promises  of  a  court;  and 
that  the  most  profligate  and  the  most  illiterate 
of  mankind,  nay,  even  the  most  degenerate  of 
the  sons  of  earth,  who,  either  by  simony, 
favour,  or  adulation,  rise  to  the  highest  sta 
tions  and  dignities  of  the  church,  are  the  per 
sons  best  received  there.  O  temporal  O  mores! 
You  would  think  me  highly  culpable,  were  I 
to  obtain  any  thing  good  by  such  indirect 
courses  as  these.  How  is  it  then  possible,  my 
dear  Sir,  that  you,  who  are  a  man  of  high 
birth,  honour,  and  integrity,  can  propose  to 
me  to  re-establish  myself  in  that  court,  where 
not  a  single  person,  professing  to  be  an  honest 
man,  and  being  Actually  so,  would  deem  it  fit 
to  remain  without  shame  to  himself,  when  not 


120  <>N  THE  CHARACTER 

actually  driven  by  want  so  to  do?     Besides, 
were  it  even  possible  for  me  to  obtain  prefer 
ment  through  the  munificence  of  his  Holiness, 
still  the  horrid  vices  of  that  court  are  so  re 
volting  to  my  mind,  that  the  very  thoughts  of 
them   make   me   sick   at   heart.     Know,    that 
when  I  withdrew  myself  from  the  Papal  Courts, 
I  sang  forth  the  Psalm — '  When  Israel  went 
out  of  Egypt.'     In  the   cheerful   solitudes   of 
Vaucluse,   I  enjoy   a   sweet  and   undisturbed 
repose,  which  affords  me  sufficient  leisure  to 
prosecute  my  studies  in  peace  and  tranquil 
lity  ;  and   what  I   may   occasionally   have   to 
spare  from  those  studies,  I  pass  in  relaxation 
and  amusements  at  Cabrieres.    Ah!  my  friend, 
were  it  possible  for  you  to  fix  your  residence 
in  that  charming  valley  of  Vaucluse,  you  would 
not  only  be  disgusted  with  the  Papal  Court, 
but  with  all  the  rest  of  the  world.     As  to  me, 
it  is  my  firm  determination  never  to  behold 
that  court  again.     Remember  me,  in  the  kind 
est  manner,  to  that  most  excellent  man,  Mes- 
sere  Stefano  Colonna,  your  father,  as  well  as 
to  your  worthy  brother  the  Cardinal,  and  con 
tinue  to  honour  me  with  your  cordial  affec 
tion.     Vaucluse,  10th  of  the  Calends  of  June, 
1338." 


OF  PETRARCH.  121 

II.  THREE  years  after  the  date  of  this  letter, 
Petrarch  having  been  crowned  at  Rome,  his 
income  increased  with  his  reputation.     King 
Robert    of    Naples    then   appointed    him    his 
chaplain,  with  the  privilege  of  not  attending 
at  court.     He  returned  to  Vaucluse,  and  the 
Holy  See  actually  forced   its  patronage  upon 
a  writer,  whose  celebrity,   and   independence 
of  character,  had  rendered  him  truly  formid 
able.    He  would  never  take  holy  orders,  that 
he  might  not  be  in  a    condition  to  accept  a 
bishoprick,  and  refused  the  office  of  apostolical 
secretary  under  three  Popes*.     In  a  bull,  by 
which  Clement  VI.  conferred  on  him  an  addi 
tional  benefice,  it  is  expressly  declared,  "  that 
neither  Petrarch,  nor  any  of  his  friends,  had 
solicited  it"f;  and  the  poet  did  not,  therefore, 
consider  that  any  obligation  was  imposed  on 
him,  by  these  liberalities,  to  restrain  the  ve 
hemence  of  his  pen.     In  his  Latin  eclogues, 
he   introduces    the    shades    of  the   pastors   of 
the  church,  reproaching  each  other  with  their 
crimes,  and  consoling  themselves  by  prophesy 
ing    those   of  their   reigning   successor.     The 
Holy  See  was  considered  by  Pgtrarcluas-Jlllie 

*  Senil.  Lib.  1,  Ep.  2.— Lib.  12,  Ep.  8. 

t  Non  ad  ipsius  Francisci,  vel  alterius  pro  eo,  nobis  oblatce 
pctitwnis  instantimn,  sed  de  incra  noslra  Apostolica  liberalitafe. 


122  ON  THE  CHARACTER 

school  of  errors,  the  temple  of  heresy,  the 
manufactory  of  treasons,  and  the  hell  of  living 
Hieru"—  The  Church  was  "an  impudent  pros 
titute,  supported  by  the  opulence  of  her  forni- 
cators."  He  calls  Avignon  "  the  drain  of  all 
vices,  whence  the  smell  rose  to  pollute  even 
the  throne  of  the  Almighty  "- 

Scuola  d'  errore,  e  tempio  d'  eresia, 
Oh  fucina  d'  inganni,  oh  prigion  dira, 
Di  vivi  inferno ! 

Putta  sfacciata,  e  dov'  hai  posto  spene  ? 
Negli  adulteri  tuoi?  nelle  malnate 
Ricchezze  tante? 

Nido  di  tradimenti,  in  cui  si  cova 
Quanto  mal  per  lo  mondo  oggi  si  spande ; 
Di  vin  serva,  di  letti,  e  di  vivande, 
In  cui  lussuria  fa  1'  ultima  prova — 

Or  vivi  si  ch'a  Dio  ne  venga  il  lezzo! 

Cecile  de  Commenge,  Vicomtesse  de  Turenne, 
secretly  bartered  her  charms  to  Clement  VI., 
for  the  power  of  selling  to  the  publicJiis  tem 
poral  favours  and  spiritual  indulgences.  Other 
pontiffs  have  probably  been  even  more  profane 
than  he  was,  but  no  one  ever  had  a  mistress 
so  avaricious  and  so  shameless.  Never  did 
luxury  and  licentiousness  prevail  so  publicly, 
and  so  ostentatiously  in  the  pontifical  palace. 
Petrarch  shuddered  at  it,  mid  lie  describe*  k 


OF  PETRARCH.  123 

in  a  way  to  make  his  readers  shudder:  ^.All 
that  is  related  of  the  two  Babylons — of  Syria^ 
jjicL-of—Egypt; — all  that  is  said  of  the  four 
Labyrinths — of  Avernus,  of  Tartarus—is  no 
thing  in  comparison  to  this  hell  of  Avignon*"." 
"  Priests,  bending  beneath  the  weight  of  years, 
dancing  with  their  naked  adulteresses  round 
the  altar;  and  Beelzebub  in  the  midst  of  them, 
stimulating  their  lusts  by  mirrors,  which  re 
flected  their  wanton  movements  and  lascivious 
forms f." — Not  satisfied  with  having  sent  such 
a  picture  in  a  Latin  letter  to  a  friend,  Petrarch 
published  it  in  Italian  verse— 

Per  le  carnere  tue  fanciulle  e  vecchi, 
Vanno  trescando ;   e  Belzebub  in  mezzo 
Co'  mantici,  col  foco,  e  con  gli  specchi. 

He  was  detained^  however,  at  Avignon  until 
Eis  manhoodT  by  the  reverses  of  his  family^ 
^g^Laura^afterwards  brought^him  often  to  a 
city^    of   which    he    never    speaks   but    with  ^ 
horror. 

*  Epist.  sine  tit.  5,  8,  10,  11. 

f  Spectat  hcec  Satan  ridens,  atquc  impari  tripudio  delecta- 
tus,  interque  decrepitos,  et  puellas  nuilas,  arbiter  sedens,  stupet 
plus  illos  agere  quam  se  hortari;  ac  ne  quis  rebus  torpor  obrepat, 
ipse  interim  et  seniles  lumbos  stimulis  incitat,  et  c&cum  pere- 
grinis  follibus  ignem  ciet. — Epist.  sine  titulo. 


124  ON  THE  CHARACTER 

III.  AT  the  period  of  the  subsequent  refor 
mation,  his  invectives  against  the  court  of 
Avignon  rendered  Petrarch  infamous  amongst 
the  French  Catholics*:  but,  in  a  semi-civilized 
age,  a  great  poet  is  radiant  with  divinity  f; 
and  in  the  fourteenth  century,  the  executioner 
would  not  place  his  hand  on  a  head  which  had 
been  hallowed  by  the  laurel  J.  Innocent  VI. 
believed  that  Petrarch  was  a  magician,  but  he 
dared  not  bring  him  to  the  stake — and  not 
withstanding  the  poet  called  him  "  a  suspi 
cious  and  indolent  bear,  whose  coarseness 
caused  the  luxury  and  the  easiness  of  his 
predecessor  to  be  forgiven §,"  yet  he  endea 
voured  to  soothe  him  by  honours  and  atten 
tions  ;  whilst  the  Cardinals  of  the  greatest  in 
fluence  could  not  induce  him  to  kiss  his  foot||. 
To  indulge  in  the  necessity,  which  he  experi 
enced,  of  saying  every  thing  he  thought  and 
felt,  Petrarch  availed  himself  of  a  celebrity 

*  FLEURY,  Hist.  Eccles.  vol.  x.  1.  97. — RACINE,  Abitge  de 
I' Hist.  Eccles.  vol.  vi.  p.  441. — COEFFETAU,  Myst.  d'Iniquite, 
p.  1965. 

t  Sanctum  poetce  nomcn,  quod  nunquam  barbaries  tiolai'it. — 
CICERO  pro  Archia,  sect.  5. 

I  Eclog.  8.—  Famil.  Lib.  13.  Ep.  6. 

§ Tristis  inersque 

Mitia  prceduris  excusetfacta  repulsis. — Eclog.  6. 

||  Famil.  Lib.  16.  Ep.  2.— Senil.  Lib.  2.  Ep.  6. 


OF  PETRARCH.  125 

which  no  author,  during  his  life,  ever  enjoyed 
in  an  equal  degree.  Still  he  was  unhappy, 
even  on  that  account:  "  This  laurel,"  says  he, 
"  without  adding  any  thing  to  my  knowledge, 
has  increased  my  own  discontent,  and  the 
envy  of  others*."  The  most  distinguished  men 
warned  him,  "  that  nothing  is  more  important, 
and  at  the  same  time  more  difficult,  than  to 
preserve  a  great  reputation:"  and  he  answered, 
"  This  torment  has,  if  I  dare  say  so,  hung  like 
a  fatality  about  me  from  my  earliest  days. 
Many  judge  of  me,  whom  I  have  neither 
known,  nor  wish  to  know,  nor  think  worthy  of 
being  known f."  Still,  to  preserve  his  cele 
brity,  he  stooped  to  the  most  vehement  decla 
mations  against  many  enemies  provoked  alike 
by  his  transcendant  talents  and  by  his  irritabi 
lity  which  could  not  bear  the  slightest  animad 
version  on  his  writings  or  manners.  Even  in  his 
will,  he  designates  those  persons  who  thought 
him  richer  than  he  was  as  "  the  mad  popu 
lace  J."  To  the  intolerance  of  his  opinions,  he 
sometimes  adds  a  pedantic  gravity  and  a  false 
modesty,  which  tarnish  the  natural  candour  of 

*  Epist.  ad  Post. 

t  Famil.  Lib.  7.  Ep.  10.— Senil.  Lib.  2.  Ep.  3. 
I  Ego  Franciscus  Petrarcha  scripsi,  qui   testamentvm  aliud 
fecissem,  .si  e&stm  clhes,  lit  viilgus  insanum  piifat.— Testam.  Petr. 


126  ON  THE  CHARACTER 

his  character.  Whilst  he  calls  himself  "  a  sim 
ple  individual  of  the  human  flock,"  he  com 
pares  himself  indirectly  to  the  most  illustrious 
men  in  history ;  and  cannot  inform  posterity  of 
the  origin  of  his  family,  without  borrowing  the 
words  of  Augustus*.  It  was  Petrarch  chiefly 
who  familiarized  his  fellow-citizens  with  the 
personages  of  ancient  Italy,  and  the  people 
were  naturally  disposed  to  consider  him  as 
one  of  the  number.  They  uttered  his  name 
with  adoration :  artisans  prepared  their  houses 
to  receive  him  when  he  travelled  through  the 
country,  and  he  preferred  them  to  the  palaces 
of  the  great.  Princes  and  magistrates,  follow 
ed  by  courtiers  and  crowds  of  citizens,  went 
forth  to  meet  him  at  the  gates  of  their  towns. 
Inquisitive  travellers  of  every  nation,  with  the 
indelicate  importunity  of  the  genus,  anxious 
to  smooth  the  way  to  his  acquaintance,  sent 
him  magnificent  presents,  of  which  he  proudly 
complains  t-  A  blind  old  man  performed  a 
long  journey  on  foot,  in  the  hope  that  he  might 

*  Vestro  dc  grege  umis:  fui  autem  mortalis  homuncio,  nee 
magnoe  admodnm,  sed  nee  vilis  originis:  familia,  tit  de  se  ait 
Augustus,  antiqua. — Epist.  ad  Poster. 

t  Atque  ad  adndrationis  augmentum  fucre  aliqui,  qui  prct- 
missis  magnis  muneribus  scquercntur,  quasi  liberalitaic  iter  stcr- 
nerent  et  jamiaa  uperircnt. — Petr.  Op.  Bas.  f. 


OF  T'ETRARCH.  127 

touch  his  head*.  His  long  study  of  the  Fa 
thers  acquired  for  him,  with  the  monks,  the 
reputation  of  a  profound  theologian'!-  Kings 
and  Emperors  hastened  to  confer  diplomas 
and  titles  on  him,  and  invited  him  to  their 
courts :  even  the  Pope  asked  his  advice  on 
political  measures'^;  whilst  governments  con 
tended  which  should  employ  him  on  em 
bassies — and  although  he  often  professes  to 
despise  that  eloquence  which  aims  at  inspiring 
others  with  the  persuasion  we  ourselves  do  not 
entertain,  he  knew  that  he  possessed  it,  and 
occasionally  employed  it  in  his  capacity  of  an 
ambassador. 

IV.  "  THAT  Petrarch,  in  his  political  career, 
never  ceased  to  be  a  troubadour — that  all  the 
tyrants  of  Italy,  by  flattering  his  vanity,  ob 
tained  from  him,  in  return,  a  base  adulation — 
that  he  sometimes  committed  actions  contrary 
to  his  principles,  and  to  his  duty  as  a  citizen  of 
Florence,  and  as  a  Guelph§" — are  the  state 
ments  of  a  modern  historian,  whose  devotion  to 
liberty  sometimes  encroaches  on  his  reverence 

*  Senil.  Lib.  15.  Ep.  7. 

t  Epist.  ad  Post. 

I  Famil.  Lib.  2.  Ep.  16,  17. 

§  SISMONDI  Hist,  cles  Rep.  Ital.  vol.  v.  p.  .300. 


128  ON  THE  CHARACTER 

for  truth.  Petrarch  was  born  an  exile;  his 
father  was  buried  in  a  foreign  land,  proscribed 
by  the  Guelphs ;  nor  did  their  sons  restore  to 
Petrarch  his  right  of  citizenship  until  he  was 
near  fifty  years  old ;  nor  his  confiscated  patri 
mony*,  until  after  the  plague  had  laid  waste 
Florence,  when  for  the  purpose  of  attracting  a 
greater  number  of  foreigners,  they  intended  to 
establish  an  University  there  under  his  direc 
tion  f.  He  loaded  them  with  thanks  and  praises, 
in  a  long  letter  which  he  wrote  from  Padua, 
and  returned  immediately  to  Vaucluse.  His 
hereditary  attachment  to  the  party  of  the  Ghi- 
belines  inspired  him  with  more  respect  for  the 
military  dictators  of  the  towns  of  Lombardy. 
The  veneration  which  they  pretended  to  enter 
tain  for  Petrarch,  and  perhaps  also :  the^'ter- 
ror  of  their  bloody  vengeance,  tempted  him 
to  give  flattery  for  flattery.  They  spontane 
ously  procured  for  him  ecclesiastical  benefices 
in  their  dominions,  and  sought  his  opinion 
upon  political  subjects.  He  did  not  consider 
himself  unequal  to  afford  them  advice;  but  his 

*  Plura  adi-cnct  prastitit  Aretium,  quam  Florcntia  ctii  suo. 
— Senil.  Lib.  13,  Ep.  2. 

f  Mehus,  Vita  Ambr.  Camald.  p.  223.  — Matteo  Villani, 
Stor.  Fiorent.  Lib.  10. 


UF  PETRARCH.  129 

soul  could  not  rest  steadily  on  its  centre  ;  it 
was  impelled,   by  any  sudden  impulse,  from 
one  extreme  to  the  other;  and  he  would  fly, 
as   the   abysses   of  infamy   and    danger,    the 
very  palaces  where  he  had  just  before  hoped 
to  revive  justice.     Whenever  there  appeared  _ 
the    least_orjj)ortunity  _or_JShaPCfi    n^  re-esta-  _ 
blishing   in   Rome  the  seat  of 
E  m  pirp 

secondary  to  this  illusive  scheme,  which  he 
chensheXjo  his  latest  breath!  It  is  wherTKe 
writes  to  his  friends,  to  the  Popes  and  Car 
dinals,  to  the  Emperors,  and  to  the  Italian 
people,  upon  this  subject,  that  Petrarch  dis 
plays  the  magnanimity  of  a  noble  soul,  and 
the  finest  specimens  of  a  genius  which,  though 
turned  to  poetry  by  love,  seems  to  have  been 
more  particularly  designed  by  Nature  to  form 
a  powerful  orator. 

V.  His  three  political  canzoni,  exquisite  as 
they  are  in  versification  and  style,  do  not 
breathe  that  enthusiasm  which  opened  to  Pin 
dar's  grasp  all  the  wealth  of  imagination,  all 
the  treasures  of  historic  lore  and  moral  truth, 
to  illustrate  and  dignify  his  strain.  Yet  the 
vigour,  the  arrangement, 


the   i3eas  in  these  canzonPof  Petrarch  —  the 


ON  THE  CHARACTER 


tone  of  conviction  and  melancholy]  in  whicb, 
the  patriot  upbraids,  and  mourns  overjiis 
country,  strike  the  heart  with  such  force,  as  to 
ajojieJbr-JJie_absence  of  grand  and  exuberant 
imagery,  and  ofjhe  irresistibl 
p(.'culiarlY_belongs  to  the  ode.  The  exhaustion 
consequent  upon  long  and  still  continued^ciyil) 
feuds  began  to  precipitate  Italy  into  that-State 
-efjfmctionand  depela^ancet^Trwhich  she  has 


never  since  risen  - 

Che  s'aspetti  non  so,  ne  che  s'agogni, 
Italia,  che  suoi  guai  non  par  che  senta  ; 
Vecchia,  oziosa,  e  lenta 
Dormira  sempre,  e  non  fia  chi  la  svegll 
Le  mani  le  avess'  io  dentro  a'capegli! 

What  Italy  expects,  or  what  desires, 
I  know  not,  she  that  feels  not  her  own  woe; 
Indolent,  in  old  age,  and  slow 


Still  will  she  sleep?  none  break  her  trance  profound? 
Oh,  would  that  in  her  locks  my  wakening  hands  were  round  ! 

MILMAN'S  Transl. 

"  I   see   no   salvation   but  in  the  union   of 
those  few  lofty  spirits  who  love  their  country," 

Fra'  magnanimi  pochi  a  chi'l  ben  piace 
Io  vo  gridando  Pace,  pace,  pace!  — 

But   in  vain.     The   animosities   of  a  divided^ 

J2-—~  --  —  J 

nation  can  be  subdued  by  a  conqueror  only  ; 
whose  conquest,  however,  can  only  be  pre 
served  by  keeping  them  alive.  The  unfor- 


OF  PETRARCH.  131 

tunate  issue  of  his  councils  did  not  discou 
rage  Petrarch  from  repeating  them,  in  every 
way,  and  he  sometimes  blended  flattery  with 
them  for  the  purpose  of  tempering  the  harsh 
ness  of  his  truths.  Still,  if  he  had  not  been 
protected  by  his  great  popularity,  Petrarch 
would  certainly  have  incurred  the  danger 
which  hangs  over  unarmed  prophets.  He  was 
never  stoned,  but  was  sometimes  derided.  The 
Doge  Andrea  Dandolo,  the  earliest  historian, 
and  the  most  ambitious  warrior  of  Venice, 
and  at  the  same  time  one  of  the  most  devoted 
admirers  of  Petrarch,  wrote  to  him — "  My 
friend,  explain  to  us  how  it  is,  that  a  man,  to 
whom  God  has  given  the  eloquence  and  the 
wisdom  to  instruct  others  to  do  well,  is  always 
changing  his  place  of  residence?  That  must 
be  injurious  to  your  studies.  We  thank  you 
for  exhorting  us  to  make  peace  with  the  Ge 
noese;  but  we  must  fight.  If  our  answer  to 
your  elaborate  letter  appear  short,  attribute  it 
to  the  circumstances  of  the  time,  which  re 
quire  of  us  deeds,  and  not  words*." 

VI.  PETRARCH'S  hatred  of  the  French,  whom 
he  called  "  enervated  madmen,"  and  of  the 
Germans,  whom  he  considered  as  "  brutal 

*   Variaruin,  Epist.  5. 


132  ON  THE  CHARACTER 

knaves*,"  was  exasperated  when  the  troops, 
who,  under  Edward  III.  of  England,  had 
spread  such  desolation  through  France,  hired 
themselves  out  to  the  Italian  States.  From 
that  time  he  never  ceased  to  preach  a  crusade 
against  all  foreigners — "  Valour  shall  take  up 
arms  against  brute  force — and  be  the  contest 
brief — for  the  bravery  of  their  forefathers  is 
not  yet  dead  in  Italian  hearts" — 

Virtu  contra  furore 

Prendera  1'arme;  e  fia'l  combatter  corto: 
Che  1'antico  valore 
Ne  gl'Italici  cor  non  e  ancor  morto. 

The  hope  of  preventing  the  princes  of  Italy 
from  persisting  in  their  mutual  slaughter  and 
ravages,  inspired  Petrarch  with  the  canzone — 

Italia  mia!  benche'l  parlar  sia  indarno, 
A  le  piaghe  mortali 
Che  nel  bel  corpo  tuo  si  spesse  veggio — 

Ben  provide  Natura  al  nostro  stato, 
Quando  de  1'  Alpi  schermo 
Pose  fra  noi,  e  la  Tedesca  rabbia. 

Oh,  mine  own  Italy !  though  vain  'twill  be 

To  speak  of  all  those  mortal  wounds 
That  on  thy  lovely  form  too-frequent  still  I  see — 
Well  did  all-provident  Nature  fence  our  land; 

The  bulwark  of  the  Alps  she  bade 
Between  us  and  the  raging  German  stand. 

MILMAN'S  Transl. 

*  Epist.  sine  titulo  15. 


OF  PETRARCH.  133 

All  subsequent  poets  of  Italy  have  considered 
it  their  bounden  duty  to  oppose  lamentings 
and  imprecations  to  the  march  of  arrayed 
armies.  But  when  Petrarch  warned  Italy  of 
her  ruin,  it  was  not  too  late  to  avert  it. 
Her  princes  were  only  beginning  to  invite 
as  allies  those  foreigners  who  remained  their 
masters — 

Voi,  cui  Fortuna  ha  posto  in  mano  il  freno 
Delle  belle  contrade, 
Di  che  nulla  pieta  par  che  vi  stringa, 
Che  fan  qui  tante  pellegrine  spade? 
Perche'l  verde  terreno 
Del  barbarico  sangue  si  dipinga? 
Vano  error  vi  lusinga; 
Poco  vedete,  e  parvi  veder  molto; 
Che'n  cor  venale  amor  cercate,  o  fede: 
Qual  piu  gente  possiede, 
Colui  e  piu  da'  suoi  nemici  avvolto. 
O  diluvio  raccolto 
Di  che  deserti  strani 
Per  inondare  i  nostri  dolci  campi! 
Se  dalle  proprie  mani 
Questo  n'avvien,  or  chi  fia  che  ne  scampi? 

Ye,  to  whose  hands  now  Fortune  yields 
The  reins,  which  sway  these  beauteous  fields, 
Can  all  our  wrongs  no  pity  then  inspire? 
Still  must  the  stranger  pour  his  armed  flood 
On  this  fair  soil  ?     How  vain  your  fell  desire 
To  shield  your  country  with  barbarian  blood! 
Blind  error  leads  your  way: 


134  ON  THE  CHARACTER 

Wise  in  your  own  conceits,  who  think  to  find 
True  faith  or  honour  in  a  venal  mind ! 

He,  whom  barbarian  crowds  defend, 

Feeds  but  a  traitor  in  each  friend. 
Alas,  what  savage  wilds,  what  rugged  shores 
Vomit  their  famish'd  tribes  upon  thy  plains, 
Oh,  Italy!  to  fix  thy  chains! 
Hark,  how  the  deluge  roars! 
How  shall  her  sons  avert  the  deadly  blow, 
When  e'en  our  voice  invites  the  distant  foe? 

VII.  To  his  regret  that  he  had  not  been 
born  in  an  earlier  age,  we  owe  his  incessant 
study  of  the  ancients — "  among  whom  he  was 
resolved  to  live  at  least  in  his  mind,  in  order 
that  he  might  the  more  effectually  detach 
himself  from  his  contemporary  generation*." 
Several  of  his  letters  are  addressed  to  Homer, 
to  Cicero,  to  Varro,  and  other  great  characters 
of  antiquity,  as  if  they  were  still  living  f;  and 
whenever  he  writes  to  Ludovico,  to  Francesco, 
or  to  Lello  di  Stefano,  his  most  intimate 
friends,  or  when  he  speaks  of  them,  he  always 
calls  them  Socrates,  Simonides,  and  Lelius. 
He  would  probably  himself  have  adopted  the 

*  Incubui  unice  ad  notitiam  vetustatis,  quoniam  mifii  semper 
(Etas  ista  displicitit,  ut  qualibet  estate  natus  esse  semper  optave- 
rim;  et  hanc  oblivisci  nisus,  animo  me  aliis  semper  inserere. — 
Ad  Post. 

t  Epistolae  ad  Viros  lllustres. 


OF  PETRARCH.  135 

name  of  some  illustrious  ancient,  if  with  his 
covetousness  of  the  world's  admiration,  he  had 
not  also  dreaded  its  ridicule.  He  contented 
himself  with  changing  his  father's  name,  Pie- 
tro,  which  was  idiomaticail^Ljpronounced  Pe- 
tracco  and  Petraccolo,/mio  the  sonorous  one  of 
Petrarcha.  When  Cola  di  Rienzo  Stirred  up 
the  people  of  Rome,  and  tookr-the  title  of 

NlCOLAS  THE  SEVERE  AND  THE  CLEMENT, 
THE  TRIBUNE  OF  LIBERTY,  PEACE,  AND  JUS 
TICE,  THE  ILLUSTRIOUS  LIBERATOR  OF  THE 

HOLY  ROMAN  REPUBLIC,  and  summoned  kings 
to  account  for  their  conduct  at  his  tribunal, 
Petrarch  gave  him  his  praise  and  his  advice*. 
A  few  months  afterwards,  he  suffered  the  mor 
tification  of  hearing  that  his  hero,  after  having 
murdered  some  of  the  nobles  and  starved  the 
populace,  had  fled  from  Rome,  like  a  coward 
and  a  traitor.  Petrarch  received  this  news 
when  he  was  on  his  road  to  Italy,  and  the 
letter  which  he  wrote  on  the  occasion  does 
more  honour  to  his  patriotism  than  to  his  wis 
dom — •"  The  Tribune's%  letter  came  like  a  thun 
derbolt  on  me.  On  whichever  side  I  turn  me, 
I  see  reason  to  despair — Rome  torn  to  pieces 
—Italy  defaced — what  will  become  of  me  in 

*  See,  amongst  others,  a  long  letter  to  Rienzo,  page  535 
of  the  Bale  edition — and  amongst  his  Latin  verses,  Eclog.  5. 


136  ON  THE  CHARACTER 

this  public  calamity?  Let  others  lend  their 
wealth,  their  power,  their  advice — as  for  me,  I 
can  give  only  my  tears*."  Those  who  are  of 
opinion  that  political  sentiments  ought  to  be 
sacrificed  to  personal  gratitude,  will  find  many 
occasions  to  condemn  Petrarch;  for  whenever 
he  could  hope  to  make  Rome  the  capital  of 
the  world,  all  the  affections  of  his  soul  were 
absorbed  in  his  enthusiasm  for  his  country. 
He  supported  the  enterprise,  and  loudly  de- 
fended~the^U6nduct,  of  Cola  di  RienzOj^al- 
though  a  son  and  a  grandson  of  Stefano 
Colonna  had  been  slain  by  Rienzo's  party. 
"  The  Colonnas,"  he  writes,  "  are  dearer  to 
me  than  my  life  j  but  Rome  is  dearer  to  me 
sttttf." 

VIII.  His  influence  over  the  great  is  one  of 
the  most  extraordinary  and  inexplicable  traits 
of  his  character.  The  reason  was,  perhaps, 
that  though  his  gratitude  for  benefits  received 
was  profoundly  felt  and  loudly  expressed,  he 
never  stooped  to  flatter,  like  men  who  look  for 
new  favours.  Often,  and  while  he  was  still 
without  fortune  or  fame,  he  addressed  severe 

*  Famil.  Lib.  7.  Ep.  5.  ad  Lelium. 

•\  Nulla  toto  orbe,  familia  carior:  carior  tamen  Roma. — 
Fam.  Lib.  11.  Ep.  16. 


OF  PETRARCH.  ]37 

remonstrances  and  advice  to  his  benefactors, 
persons  who  were  venerable  from  their  station 
and  their  years*.  Whilst  Petrarch  enjoyed 
the  countenance  of  the  Visconti  family,  the 
most  powerful  and  cruel  despots  in  Italy,  his 
conduct  was  rather  that  of  an  honest  coun 
sellor  than  of  a  courtier ;  and  it  was  during 
his  intercourse  with  Petrarch  that  Galeazzo 
founded  the  University  of  Pavia.  Although  we 
may  perceive  every  moment  that  he  is  highly 
gratified  in  possessing  illustrious  friends,  all 
the  actions  of  his  life  attest  what  he  himself 
asserts,  "  that  if  the  great  desired  his  society, 
they  must  accommodate  themselves  to  his  hu 
mour  f — yet  if  he  seldom  stooped  to  their 
political  purposes,  he  always  repaid  their  libe 
ralities  with  a  lasting  affection.  He  received 
innumerable  acts  of  kindness  from  the  Princes 
of  Coreggio:  but  they  governed  their  subjects 
upon  a  ruinous  system  of  policy;  and  Petrarch 
remained  there  some  time,  wavering  between 
the  contemplation  of  the  honours  he  received, 
and  the  apprehension  that  they  might  not  be 
gratuitously  bestowed.  He  therefore  retired, 
for  the  purpose  of  finishing  his  AFRICA,  to  a 
small  house  at  Parma,  in  a  quiet  situation, 

*  Famil.  Lib.  2.  Ep.  5,  6,  7,  et  8. 
t  Senil.  Lib.  2.  Ep.  2. 


igg  ON  THE  CHARACTER 

which  he  afterwards  purchased*.  Soon  after, 
Azzo  di  Coreggio,  having  lost  his  estate,  was 
reduced  to  live  amidst  the  greatest  calamities, 
sometimes  in  exile,  at  others  a  prisoner,  and 
always  in  imminent  danger ;  but  he  retained 
to  the  very  last  the  friendship  of  Petrarch, 
who  continued  to  write  to  him  with  greater 
respect  than  he  used  towards  more  fortunate 
princes;  and  it  was  for  his  consolation  that  he 
composed  the  treatise  UPON  THE  REMEDIES 
FOR  PROSPERITY  AND  ADVERSITY.  Robert 
king  of  Naples  had  requested  that  the  AFRICA 
might  be  dedicated  to  him :  he  died  soon  after 
wards,  and  though  many  other  princes  aspired 
to  this  distinction,  it  was  found  after  Petrarch's 
death  dedicated  to  the  manes  of  Robert. 

IX.  AFTER  a  considerable  lapse  of  time,  Pe 
trarch  acquired,  through  his  reputation  alone, 
the  friendship  of  James  of  Carrara,  the  younger. 
— "  Indeed,"  says  Petrarch,  "  I  do  not  know, 
that  among  the  princes  of  his  time,  there 
existed  his  equal.  I  would  undertake  to  affirm, 
that  there  did  not.  He  has  persevered  for  so 
many  years  together  in  soliciting  my  friend 
ship,  by  dispatching  couriers  to  me,  both 
when  I  resided  beyond  the  Alps,  and,  whilst  I 

*  Epist.  ad  Poster. 


OF  PETRARCH. 


139 


remained  in  Italy,  and  in  short,  wherever  I 
was  to  be  found,  that  although  I  expect  but 
little  from  the  great  ones  of  the  earth,  I  never 
theless  formed  the  resolution  of  paying  him  a 
visit.  I  felt  anxious  to  discover  the  meaning 
of  such  advances,  from  a  man  of  his  powerful 
influence,  towards  an  individual  with  whom  he 
had  no  personal  acquaintance.  This  was  my 
reason  for  repairing  to  Padua.  I  was  received 
by  that  great  man,  who  has  left  so  many 
splendid  memorials  behind  him,  in  a  manner 
more  accordant  with  our  ideas  of  the  admis 
sion  of  the  blessed  into  Paradise,  than  the 
reception  of  a  fellow-mortal.  When  he  learnt 
that  I  had,  from  my  youth,  dedicated  myself 
to  the  Church,  he  caused  me  to  be  elected 
Canon  of  Padua,  with  a  view  of  conciliating 
my  attachment  to  his  person  and  country. 
And,  indeed,  had  not  death  deprived  me  of  his 
protection,-  I  might,  in  that  tranquil  retire 
ment,  have  found  the  termination  of  all  my 
earthly  troubles.  But,  alas!  nothing  is  certain 
here  below!  And  the  moment  when  we  think 
ourselves  most  secure  from  the  frowns  of  for 
tune,  may  be  that  which  is  pregnant  with  her 
severest  afflictions.  I  had  not  resided  quite 
two  years  at  Padua,  when  the  Almighty,  in 
summoning  my  patron  to  his  presence,  cle- 


140  ON  THE  CHARACTER 

prived  me,  his  country,  and,  I  may  add,  the 
whole  world,  of  a  benefactor,  of  whom  neither 
myself,  nor  his  country,  nor,  indeed,  the  whole 
world,  were  worthy.  In  this  one  sentiment,  I 
feel,  at  least,  that  I  cannot  be  mistaken.  He 
was  succeeded  by  his  son,  a  prince  of  consi 
derable  prudence,  and  who  was  greatly  be 
loved  by  his  subjects.  Inheriting  the  great 
endowments  of  his  father,  he  continued  to  ho 
nour  me  with  equal  favour  and  regard.  But 
one  essential  quality  of  friendship  was  wanting 
between  us — I  mean  a  similarity  of  age.  After 
the  severe  loss  I  had  thus  sustained,  I  returned 
again  to  France,  doubtful  where  I  could  next 
establish  myself*." 

X.  NATURE  had  doomed  Petrarch  to  such  a 
necessity  of  interchanging  affections,  that  he  ne 
ver  seemed  happy  unless  when  loving  or  being 
loved.  Affection,  in  his  eyes,  levelled  the  in 
equalities  of  education  and  fortune :  and  in  spite 
of  his  yearning  for  solitude,  he  was  solus  sibi ; 
totus  omnibus :  omnium  locorum,  omnium  horarum, 
omnium  fortunarum,  omnium  mortalium  homo.  He 
speaks  in  the  same  terms  of  the  peasant  and 
his  wife  who  waited  on  him  at  Vaucluse,  as  he 
uses  when  recording  the  good  qualities  of  his 

*  Epist.  ad  Post. 


OF  PETRARCH.  J4J 

powerful  friends — "He  was  my  counsellor, 
and  the  keeper  of  all  my  most  secret  designs ; 
and  I  should  have  lamented  his  loss  still  more 
grievously,  had  I  not  been  warned  by  his  ad 
vanced  age,  that  I  could  not  expect  long  to 
retain  possession  of  such  a  companion.  In  him 
I  have  lost  a  confidential  servant,  or,  rather,  a 
father,  in  whose  bosom  I  had  deposited  my 
sorrows  for  these  fifteen  years  past;  and  his 
humble  cottage  was,  to  me,  as  a  temple.  He 
cultivated  for  me  a  few  acres  of  indifferent 
land.  He  knew  not  how  to  read,  yet  he  was 
also  the  guardian  of  my  library.  With  anxious 
eye  he  watched  over  my  most  rare  and  ancient 
copies,  which,  by  long  use,  he  could  distin 
guish  from  those  that  were  more  modern,  or  of 
which  I  myself  was  the  author.  Whenever  I 
consigned  a  volume  to  his  custody,  he  was 
transported  with  joy ;  he  pressed  it  to  his 
bosom  with  sighs ;  with  great  reverence  he  re 
peated  the  author's  name;  and  seemed  as  if 
he  had  received  an  accession  of  learning  and 
happiness  from  the  sight  and  touch  of  a  book*. 
His  wife's  face  was  scorched  by  the  sun,  and 
her  body  extenuated  by  labour ;  but  she  had  a 
soul  of  the  most  candid  and  generous  nature. 
Under  the  burning  heat  of  the  dog-star,  in  the 

*  Famil.  Lib.  6.  lip.  1. 


142  ON  THE  CHARACTER 

midst  of  snow  and  of  rain,  she  was  found  from 
morning  till  evening  in  the  fields,  whilst  even 
a  greater  part  of  the  night  was  given  to  work 
than  to  repose.  Her  bed  was  of  straw ;  her 
food  was  black  bread,  frequently  full  of  sand; 
and  her  drink  was  water,  mixed  with  vinegar : 
yet  she  never  appeared  weary  or  afflicted; 
never  shewed  any  desire  of  a  more  easy  life ; 
nor  was  even  heard  to  complain  of  the  cruelty 
of  destiny,  and  of  mankind  *." 

XI.  IT  was  on  account  of  his  natural  bene 
volence  that  Petrarch  seemed  free  from  that 
feeling  by  which  almost  all  men  of  letters,  if 
not  during  the  whole,  at  least  in  some  mo 
ments,  of  their  lives,  are  inwardly  humiliated. 
The  mystical  tradition  of  Apollo  flaying  his 
competitor,  is  related  by  a  Greek  antiquary, 
with  such  praises  of  the  musical  skill  of  Mar- 
syas,  and  with  such  imputations  of  trickery 
and  cruelty  on  the  God  of  Poetry  f,  that  it  was 
probably  an  allegory,  not  so  much  of  the  chas 
tisement  merited  by  presumptuous  ignorance, 
as  of  the  vindictive  jealousy  of  scholars.  The 
protestations,  which  Petrarch  mingles  with  the 
confessions  of  his  other  failings,  and  which 

*  Famil.  Lib.  3.  Ep.  28.— Lib.  9.  Ep  2. 
i   Diodorus  Sic.  Lib.  3.  Sect.  59. 


OF  PETRARCH.  143 

he  repeats  in  his  old  age — "  that  envy  never 
dwelt  in  his  heart*" — sprang  from  one  of  the 
countless  illusions  which  bewilder  us  precisely 
when  we  fancy  that  our  own  heart  can  hide 
nothing  from  our  penetration.  Envy  remained 
dormant  because  no  one  about  Petrarch  was 
pre-eminent  enough  to  awaken  it.  He  uttered 
rarely  the  name,  and  affected  never  to  peruse 
the  works,  of  Dante;  and  if  he  cannot  always 
avoid  speaking  of  his  predecessor,  it  is  to  re 
cord  less  his  excellencies  than  his  faults  f. 
The  opposite  paths  by  which  nature,  educa 
tion,  their  times  and  the  accidents  of  fortune, 
led  these  two  men  to  immortality,  will  be 
traced  out  in  the  following  Essay.— With  re 
spect  to  his  contemporaries,  Petrarch  was  so 
far  above  jealousy  himself,  that  he  often  con 
trived  to  extinguish  it  among  them.  But 
whenever  his  interference  was  not  attended 
with  success,  he  lamented  it  as  an  undeserved 
misery,  to  which,  however,  he  submitted,  per 
haps  from  the  ambition  of  displaying  his  au 
thority.  To  this  trait  of  his  character  he  seems 
to  allude  in  some  lines  which  undoubtedly 
were  prompted  by  his  own  experience — 

*  De  Secrcto   Confl.   col.  2.    an.  1343.— Senil.   Lib.   13. 
Ep.  7.  an.  1372. 

t  Ilerum  Memor.  Lib.  3.  c.  4. 


|44  ON  THE  CHARACTER 

La  lunga  vita,  e  la  sua  larga  vena 
D'  ingegno,  pose  in  accordar  le  parti 
Che  il  furor  letterato  a  guerra  mena; 

Ne  '1  poteo  far :  che  come  crebber  1'  arti 
Crebbe  1'  invidia,  e  col  sapere  insieme 
Ne'  cuori  enfiati  i  suoi  veneni  sparti. 

Trionfa  dclla  Fama. 

With  anxious  toil,  he  through  his  lengthened  life 
The  copious  flood  of  eloquence  applied, 

In  vain !  to  quench  of  learned  bands  the  strife : 
For  with  the  growth  of  arts  grew  envious  pride. 

Wisdom  herself  but  fanned  the  raging  pest 

And  urged  its  venom  o'er  the  inflated  breast. 

Although  his  vanity  was  gratified  at  the  ex- 
pence  of  his  peace,  his  mediation  in  the  lite 
rary  quarrels  was  grounded  on  the  generous 
principle — "  that  they  who  burn  with  the  love 
of  their  country,  being  essentially  virtuous,  are 
formed  by  nature  for  indissoluble  friendship*." 
But  lofty  maxims,  when  proclaimed  amongst 
people  with  whom  they  are  impracticable,  in 
evitably  provoke  ridicule;  and  Petrarch  by 
reproving  those  who  laughed  at  his  advice, 
in  some  measure  justified  the  jests  against 
him.  A  literary  club  of  young  men  at  Venice 
brought  him  to  a  formal  trial,  for  having 

*  Inter  bonos  amor  comntvnu  patrice  potens  t'ablt  est,  sicut 
inter  malos  odium. — Senil.  Lib.  15.  Ep.  6. 


OF  PKTRARCII. 


14.3 


usurped  and  exercised  an  illegal  jurisdiction 
over  all  questions  of  learning.  They  appointed 
from  their  own  body  judges  and  counsel ;  and 
after  hearing  the  pleadings  for  the  prosecution 
and  the  defence,  they  decided  that  Petrarch's 
crime  consisted  only  in  being  a  good  sort  of 
man.  Of  this  farce  no  one,  save  Petrarch  him 
self,  took  any  serious  notice.  To  repel  the  in 
sinuation  he  composed  a  large  book,  which  has 
actually  forced  posterity  to  join  in  the  merri 
ment  of  his  accusers*. 

XII.  THINKING  that  mankind  conspired  not 
so  much  against  him,  as  against  wisdom  and 
virtue,  his  character  acquired  a  tint  of  misan 
thropy  by  no  means  natural  to  him.  All  those 
who  approached  him  nearly,  perceived  that  he 
had  more  of  fear  than  hatred,  more  of  pity 
than  contempt,  for  man.  Indeed  the  propen 
sity  to  be  useful  to  others,  although  too  loudly 
professed,  was  born  with  him ;  and  instead  of 
being  abated  by  the  selfishness  of  old  age,  it 
grew  into  an  anxiety  which  ceased  only  with 
his  life.  When  one  of  his  friends  was  perse 
cuted,  he  wrote  to  him :  "  Take  your  choice ; 

*  DC  SIKI  ips.  ct  al.  ignorantid. 
L. 


J46  ON  THE  CHARACTER 

either  come  and  find  an  asylum  under  my  roof, 
or  you  will  compel  me  to  come  into  France 
for  your  protection*."  The  lessons  of  early 
adversity,  which  harden  selfish  dispositions, 
had  taught  the  generous  heart  of  Petrarch  to 
feel  for  the  sufferings  of  others;  and  shunning 
—like  all  men,  who  are  merely  busied  with 
their  own  feelings  and  intellectual  faculties— 
"  the  exertion  necessary  for  the  acquirement 
and  preservation  of  richest,"  he  was  led  in  the 
fearlessness  of  youth  to  spend  for  the  benefit  of 
others,  nearly  all  of  the  scanty  inheritance  he 
derived  from  parents  who  died  in  exile.  He 
bestowed  one  part  as  a  dowry  on  his  sister,  who 
married  at  Florence  J,  and  gave  up  the  other 
to  two  deserving  friends,  who  were  in  indigent 
circumstances  §.  He  lent  even  some  classic 
manuscripts,  which  he  called  his  only  treasures, 
to  his  old  master,  that  he  might  pawn  them : 
in  this  manner  Cicero's  books  DE  GLORIA  were 


*  Famil.  Lib.  12.  Ep.9. 

t  Non  quod  divitias  non  optarem,  sed  labores  curasque  oderam, 
opum  comites  inseparables. — Ep.  ad  Post. 

I  LEONARDO  ARETINO,  Vit.  Petr.  —  From  a  document 
lately  discovered  at  Florence  it  appears,  that  the  dowry  of 
Petrarch's  sister  consisted  of  35  florins  in  gold. 

§  Hujus  hcercditatis  duas  partes — inter  duos  veteres,  et  bene- 
meritos  amicos  pa.titus  sum. — Famil.  Lib.  15.  Ep.  5. 


OF  PETRARCH.  147 

irrecoverably  lost*.  If  his  presents  were  de 
clined,  he  attached  some  verses  to  them  which 
compelled  his  friends  to  accept  them;  and  he 
distributed  his  Italian  poetry  as  alms  amongst 
rhymesters  and  ballad-singers -f.  As  he  ad 
vanced  in  years,  the  "  sovereign  contempt  for 
riches,"  which  he  continued  to  professj,  was 
more  apparent  than  real,  especially  towards  the 
end  of  his  career  §:  yet  he  never  forgot  those 
who  looked  to  him  for  aid,  which  he  always 
bestowed  with  kindness.  Among  the  many  le 
gacies  of  his  testament  he  left  to  one  of  his 
friends  his  lute,  that  he  might  sing  the  praises 
of  the  Almighty — to  a  domestic,  a  sum  of 
money,  intreating  him  not  to  lose  it  at  play  as 
usual — to  his  amanuensis,  a  silver  goblet,  re 
commending  him  to  fill  it 'with  water  in  pre 
ference  to  wine — and  to  Boccacio  a  winter 
pelisse,  for  his  nocturnal  studies.  Nor  did  he 
wait  till  death  had  compelled  him  to  be  liberal 
— "  In  good  truth,"  he  writes  to  Boccacio, 
"  I  know  not  what  you  mean  by  answering, 
that  you  are  my  debtor  in  money.  Oh!  if 

*  Senil.  Lib.  16.  Ep.  1. 
t  Senil.  Lib.  5.  Ep.  3. 

I    DlVITIARUM     CONTEMPTOR    EXIMIUS. Epist.     ad     Post. 

Senil.  Lib.  3.  Ep.  2. 

§  Variarum,  Ep.  43.  an.  1371. 

L  2 


]48  ON  THE  CHARACTER 

I  were  able  to  enrich  you!  —  but  for  two 
friends  like  ourselves,  who  possess  but  one 
soul,  one  house  is  sufficient*." 

XIII.  THESE  offers  arose  also  from  the  lone 
liness  in  which  Petrarch  often  passed  his  days. 
To  be  the  parent  of  illegitimate  children,  chill 
ed  the  domestic  charities  which  alone  could 
offer  consolation  to  his  ardent  heart.  His  son, 
either  from  the  perverseness  of  his  disposition, 
or  from  the  father's  excessive  anxiety  about 
his  future  eminence,  was  a  source  of  tribulation 
and  shame  |;  and  he  never  mentions  him  by 
any  other  name  than — the  youth, — so  that  had 
it  not  been  for  De  Sade's  recent  discovery  of  a 
bull  of  Clement  VI.  legitimating  him,  nobody, 
not  even  Tiraboschi,  could  have  guessed  that 
he  was  Petrarch's  sonj.  He  was  appointed  a 
Canon  at  Verona,  and  when  he  died  his  father 
recorded  the  event,  in  the  same  copy  of  Virgil 
wherein  he  had  inserted  the  memorandum  of 
Laura's  death — "  He,  who  was  born  for  my 
vexation  and  sorrow,  who  while  he  lived  was 
the  cause  of  grievous  and  endless  cares  to  me, 

*  Senil.  Lib.  7.  Ep.  5. 

t  Unions  vitce  labor,  unions  dolor,  unions  pndor  est. — Famil. 
Lib.  23.  Ep.  12. 

I  Regist.  Clem.  VI.  vol.  45,  page  200. 


OF  PETRARCH.  ]49 

and  whose  death  opened  a  wound  in  my  heart, 
after  having  enjoyed  a  few  days  of  happiness, 
departed  in  the  twenty-fifth  year  of  his  age*." 
— The  older  he  grew,  the  more  desolate  he 
felt,  and  the  more  he  longed  for  "  that  youth" 
whom  he  professed  to  hate  when  alive — but  on 
whom  his  thoughts  now  dwelt  with  fondness; 
his  heart  cherished ;  his  memory  continually 
set  before  him ;  and  his  eyes  sought  every 
where  f.  Petrarch  had  less  reserve  in  speaking 
of  his  daughter,  whom  he  loved  the  more  be 
cause  she  resembled  him  in  features  and  dis 
position:  yet  it  would  seem,  that  she  never  set 
her  foot  in  his  house  until  she  was  married — 
and  in  his  will,  he  only  makes  the  following- 
indirect  allusion  to  her — "  I  beg  Francesco  di 
Brossano"  (this  was  his  daughter's  husband) 
"  not  only  as  my  heir,  but  as  my  very  dear 
son,  to  divide  whatever  money  he  may  find 
after  my  death  into  two  portions ;  one  he  will 
reserve  for  himself — and  the  other  he  will  be 
stow  upon  the  person  whom  he  knowethj." 

*  Homo  natus  ad  laborem,  ad  dolorem  meum,  et  vivens  gra-vi- 
bus  me  citris  exercuit,  et  acri  dolore  moriens  vulneravit,  qui  cum 
pavcos  Icetos  dies  vidisset  in  vita  sua,  obiit  An.  D'ni  1361,  ctt. 
sitce  xxv. 

t  Quern  viventem  terbo  oderam,  dtfunctum  mente  diligo,  corde 
teneo  complcctorque  ntemoria,  qucero  oculis. — Senil.Lib.  1.  Ep.  2. 

I  Et  ipxum  rogo  nun  solum  ut  hcet'cdem,  seil  ntjilium  carisi>i- 


150  ON  THE  CHARACTER 

XIV.  WHILE  he  longed  to  have  somebody 
always  near  him  who  might  love  him,  yet,  was 
he  often  condemned  to  live  quite  alone,  by  the 
fear  that  a  too  frequent  intercourse  with  the 
persons  dearest  to  him  would  furnish  him  with 
reason  for  distrusting  them.  It  was  by  open 
ing  his  heart  and  his  purse  more  frequently 
than  his  doors,  that  he  boasts,  and  with  reason, 
"  that  no  man  was  more  devoted  to  his  friends, 
and  that  he  never  lost  one*."  Even  in  his 
early  youth,  when  the  heart  is  more  confiding, 
and  he  really  wished  to  live  with  them,  he 
was  always  afraid  of  discovering  their  defects. 
— "  Nothing,"  says  he,  "  is  so  tiresome  as  to 
converse  with  a  person  who  has  not  the  same 
information  as  one's  selff."  But  the  moment 
that  he  felt  disposed  to  give  himself  to  society, 
he  conversed  with  the  utmost  freedom.  "  If  I 
seem  to  my  friends,"  says  he,  "  to  be  a  great 
talker,  it  is  because  I  see  them  seldom,  and 
then  I  talk  as  much  in  a  day  as  will  compen 
sate  for  the  silence  of  a  year.  In  the  judgment 
of  many  of  them,  I  express  myself  clearly  and 
strongly ;  but  in  my  own  opinion,  my  language 
is  feeble  and  obscure,  for  I  never  could  impose 

mum,  ut  pecuniam  dividat  in  duas  partes ;  tt  unatn  sibi  habeat, 
alterant  numcret  cui  scit  me  idle. — Testam.  Petr. 

*  Epist.  ad  Post. 

t  Famil.  Lib.  10.  Ep.  15  et  16. 


OF  PETRARCH.  151 

upon  myself  the  task  of  being  eloquent  in  con 
versation.  I  have  never  liked  dinners,  and 
have  always  considered  it  as  troublesome  as  it 
is  useless,  to  invite,  or  be  invited,  to  them; 
but  nothing  gives  me  more  pleasure  than  any 
one  dropping  in  on  me  at  my  meals,  and  I 
never  eat  alone  if  I  can  help  it*."  To  the 
very  end  of  his  life,  Petrarch  cherished  his 
habits  of  strict  temperance,  to  which  he  had 
been  accustomed  from  his  very  infancy :  he 
seldom  ate  more  than  one  meal  a  day ;  he  dis 
liked  wine,  lived  chiefly  upon  vegetables,  and 
often,  during  seasons  of  devotion  and  on  fast 
ing-days,  bread  and  water  constituted  the 
whole  of  his  dinner.  As  his  fortune  increased, 
he  augmented  the  number  of  his  servants  and 
transcribers ;  these  he  always  took  with  him 
on  his  journeys,  and  kept  more  horses  to  carry 
his  books.  Twelve  years  before  his  death,  he 
gave  his  rich  collection  of  ancient  manuscripts 
to  the  Venetian  Senate,  and  thus  became  the 
founder  of  the  library  of  Saint  Marc.  He  re 
quested,  and  received,  by  way  of  remunera 
tion,  a  mansion  in  Venice.  The  only  fault 
which  he  contracted  from  the  possession  of 
wealth  was  the  custom  of  boasting  too  much 
about  the  good  use  he  made  of  it. 

*   Epist.  ad  Post. 


152  ON  THE  CHARACTER 

XV.  POSSESSING  a  house  in  almost  every 
country  where  he  had  an  ecclesiastical  bene 
fice,  Petrarch  lived  as  if  he  had  no  home,  and 
was  ever  regretting  his  hermitage  of  Vaucluse. 
He  had  resided  there,  with  few  interruptions, 
ten  years  during  Laura's  life-time,  and  he  often 
returned  there  after  her  death — "  I  had  re 
solved  to  return  here  no  more,  but  my  desires 
overcame  my  resolution;  and  in  justification  of 
my  inconstancy,  I  have  nothing  to  allege  but 
the  necessity  which  I  feel  for  solitude.  In  my 
own  country  I  am  too  well  known,  too  much 
courted,  too  greatly  praised.  I  am  sick  of 
adulation;  and  that  place  becomes  dear  to  me, 
where  I  can  live  to  myself  alone,  abstracted 
from  the  crowd,  and  unannoyed  by  the  trumpet 
of  Fame.  Habit,  which  is  second  nature,  has 
rendered  Vaucluse  my  true  country*."  The 
last  time  he  resided  at  it  two  years — "  I  am 
again  in  France,  not  to  see  what  I  have  already 
seen  a  thousand  times,  but  to  dissipate  weari 
ness  and  disquietude,  as  invalids  seek  to  do, 
by  change  of  placet- — Thus  I  have  no  place 
to  remain  in,  none  to  go  to:  I  am  weary  of 

*  Famil.  Lib.  2.  Ep.  12. 

t  Stare  nescius,  non  tarn  desidtrio  visa  willies  revisendi, 
quam  studio  more  cegrorwn,  loci  wutalione,  tcedii  consultndi. — 
Epist.  ad  Post. 


OF  PETRARCH.  153 

life;  and  whatever  path  I  take,  I  find  it  strew 
ed  with  flints  and  thorns.  In  good  truth,  the 
spot  which  I  seek  has  no  existence  upon  earth : 
would  that  the  time  were  come,  when  I  might 
depart  in  search  of  a  world  far  different  from 
this  wherein  I  feel  so  unhappy — unhappy,  per 
haps,  from  my  own  fault;  perhaps  from  that  of 
mankind;  or  it  may  be  only  the  fault  of  the 
age  in  which  I  am  destined  to  live;  or  it  may 
be  the  fault  of  no  one — still  I  am  unhappy*." 
— On  every  suspicion  of  troubles,  of  war,  or  of 
epidemical  disease,  he  endeavours  to  justify 
his  change  of  abode. — "It  is  not  to  avoid 
death  that  I  thus  wander  on  the  earth,  but  to 
seek  if  there  be  any  corner  in  which  tranquil 
lity  may  be  found  t-"  From  his  aversion  to 
medicine,  which  he  derides  with  less  apathy 
than  Montaigne,  and  with  less  humour  than 
Moliere,  but  with  more  vehemence  and  a  fuller 
conviction  than  either  of  them  J,  it  is  plain  that 
he  had  no  pusillanimous  attachment  to  life. 
But  whilst  he  complained  that  he  could  not 
die  in  peace  because  men  ran  after  him,  he 
ought  to  have  known  that  the  often  leaving  a 

*  Famil.  Lib.  15.  Ep.  8.— Lib.  17.  Ep.  3. 

t  Non  tit  mortem  fugiam,  sed  ut  quceram,  si  qua  in  terris  est, 
requiem. — Senil.  Lib.  1.  Ep.  6. 

I  INVECTIVE  IN  MKDICUM. — Senil.  Lib.  12.  Ep.  1  et  2. 


154  ON  THE  CHARACTER 

country  and  often  returning  to  it,  was  not  the 
best  means  of  silencing  curiosity;  and  that  an 
author  may  hope  to  remain  unmolested,  only 
when  he  says  nothing  of  others,  and  very  little 
of  himself — 

Cercato  ho  sempre  solitaria  vita, 
Le  rive  il  sanno  e  le  campagne  e  i  boschi : 
Per  fuggir  quest'  ingegni  sordi  e  loschi, 
Che  la  strada  del  Cielo  hanno  smarrita. 

I  ever  sought  a  life  of  solitude, 
This  know  the  shores,  and  every  lawn  and  wood; 
To  fly  from  those  deaf  spirits  and  blind  away, 
Who  from  the  path  of  Heaven  have  gone  astray. 

MILMAN'S  Transl. 

On  comparing  the  actual  condition  of  mankind 
with  the  perfection  for  which  he  sighed,  he 
became  more  wrapped  in  the  contemplation  of 
himself,  and  considered  them  unworthy  of  his 
study,  but  not  of  his  censure :  and  whilst  he 
aspired  to  heaven,  he  was  not  indifferent  to 
this  world.  He  must  still  have  attached  some 
importance  to  the  human  race ;  for,  had  he 
been  capable  of  really  despising  it,  he  would 
not  have  experienced  that  constant  necessity 
to  fly  from  men;  to  immure  himself  in  soli 
tude  ;  to  complain  of  the  folly  and  ignorance 
of  society,  and  of  the  ties  by  which  nature 
has  bound  us  all  to  life  amongst  the  foolish, 


OF  PETRARCH.  J55 

the  wise,-  the  virtuous,  the  wicked,  the  tyrants, 
and  the  slaves ;  and  all  equally  wretched.  He 
says  that  Laura  on  her  death-bed  heard  a  voice 
reminding  her  of  the  discontented  and  wan 
dering  life  of  her  lover — 

O  misero  colui  che  i  giorni  conta 
E  pargli  1'un  mill'anni,  e  indarno  vive, 
E  seco  in  terra  mai  non  si  raffronta — 

E  cerca  il  mar  e  tutte  le  sue  rive. 

When,  in  sad  accents,  tremulous  and  slow 
This  mournful  chant  beside  me  seem'd  to  flow : — 
"  Unhappy  he,  whose  hours,  in  tardy  train, 
Seem  each  a  day  of  long-protracted  pain! 
One  vision  haunts  him  through  the  tedious  way, 
By  land  and  sea,  to  lasting  woes  a  prey."       BOYD'S  Tr. 

Petrarch  had  made  the  same  complaint  in  his 
SECRET  WORK,  written  about  twenty  years 
before  these  lines — "  I  have  sought  liberty 
every  where ;  in  the  west,  in  the  south,  in  the 
north,  in  the  confines  of  the  ocean;  but  I  have 
found  it  no  where — for  I  have  travelled  always 
with  myself*." 

XVI.  WHEREVER  he  went,  he  took  up  his 
abode  in  a  sort  of  hermitage,  and  continued  to 
compose  whole  volumes,  still  exclaiming  that 
he  was  only  losing  his  time,  but  that  he  must 

*  De  Secret.  Confl.  coll.  3. 


156  ON  THE  CHARACTER 

do  something  to  forget  himself—"  Whether  I 
am  being  shaved  or  having  my  hair  cut,  whe 
ther  1  am  riding  on  horseback  or  taking  my 
meals,  I  either  read  myself,  or  get  some  one  to 
read  to  me.  On  the  table  where  I  dine,  and 
by  the  side  of  my  bed,  I  have  all  the  materials 
for  writing;  and,  when  I  awake  in  the  dark,  I 
write,  although  I  am  unable  to  read  the  next 
morning  what  I  have  written*."  During  the 
latter  years  of  his  life  he  always  slept  with  a 
lighted  lamp  near  him,  and  rose  exactly  at 
midnight  f.  — "  Like  a  wearied  traveller,  I 
quicken  my  pace  in  proportion  as  I  approach 
the  end  of  my  journey.  I  read  and  write 
night  and  day:  it  is  my  only  resource.  My 
eyes  are  heavy  with  watching,  my  hand  is 
wearied  with  writing,  and  my  heart  is  worn 
with  care.  I  desire  to  be  known  to  posterity ; 
if  I  cannot  succeed,  I  may  be  known  to  my 
own  age,  or  at  least  to  my  friends.  It  would 
have  satisfied  me  to  have  known  myself;  but 
in  that  I  shall  never  succeed  J." — What  does  a 
life,  thus  spent,  avail?  To  what  purpose  are 
so  many  watchful  nights  and  weary  days — so 

*  This  passage  belongs  to  the  fourteenth  letter  of  Pe 
trarch,  of  a  series  which  is  still  inedited.  The  manuscript 
exists  in  the  library  of  St.  Marc,  at  Venice. 

t  Famil.  Ep.  72. 

:  Famil.  Lib.  10.  Ep.  15. 


OF  PETRARCH.  157 

many  specimens  of  a  noble  genius,  and  of  a  be 
nevolent  heart?  In  the  Letter  which  Petrarch 
addressed,  a  few  months  before  his  death,  to 
Posterity,  as  his  last  legacy,  and  as  the  ulti 
mate  result  of  his  long  studies,  he  declares, 
that  he  never  found  a  philosophical  system 
which  was  satisfactory  to  him;  and  scarcely 
an  historical  fact,  on  the  truth  of  which  he 
could  depend;  and  thus  concludes:  "  To  phi 
losophise  is  to  love  wisdom;  and  true  wisdom 
is  Jesus  Christ/' 

XVII.  BY  this  strong  sense  of  religion,  all 
his  passions  were  kept  in  a  constant  struggle, 
and,  gaining  force  from  action,  it  served  only 
to  irritate  them,  and  to  disturb  the  faculties  of 
his  mind,  which  were  vehement  rather  than 
vigorous.  The  most  ordinary  actions,  the  most 
indifferent  occurrences,  were  sufficient  to  fix 
him  in  a  train  of  meditation  upon  eternity. 
Having,  when  yet  in  his  youth,  felt  himself  ex 
hausted,  and  out  of  breath,  before  he  could 
reach  the  top  of  a  mountain,  which  he  was 
attempting  to  climb,  he  wrote  to  a  friend — "  I 
compared  the  state  of  my  soul,  which  desires 
to  gain  Heaven,  but  walks  not  in  the  way  to  it, 
to  that  of  my  body,  which  had  so  many  diffi 
culties  in  attaining  the  top  of  the  mountain, 


158  ON  THE  CHARACTER 

notwithstanding  the  curiosity  which  prompted 
me  to  attempt  it.  These  reflections  inspired 
me  with  more  strength  and  courage.  If,  said 
I,  I  have  undergone  so  much  labour  and  fa 
tigue,  that  my  body  may  be  nearer  to  Heaven, 
what  ought  I  not  to  do,  and  suffer,  that  my 
soul- also  may  arrive  there *?"• — The  death  of 
Laura,  and  of  many  friends  of  his  youth,  parti 
cularly  all  the  Colonnas,  of  whom  the  Cardinal 
died  of  a  broken  heart — the  shameful  defeat  of 
Cola  di  Rienzo — the  civil  wars  in  Italy — the 
consummate  height  of  corruption  in  the  Church 
— the  plague,  which  desolated  the  south  of 
Europe- — and  the  invasion  of  Naples  by  the 
Hungarians — all  concurred,  in  the  course  of 
the  same  year,  to  overwhelm  him  with  afflic 
tion,  in  the  vigour  of  his  manhood f.  In  a 
letter,  written  at  that  period,  he  exclaims : 
"  What!  Can  it  be  true,  as  so  many  philoso 
phers  have  conjectured,  that  the  Deity  con 
cerns  not  himself  with  the  affairs  of  mortals? 
Yes,  Great  Creator!  thou  dost  take  thought  for 
man;  but  how  unsearchable  are  thy  dispensa 
tions!  for  what  purpose  are  human  calamities? 
In  vain  would  a  finite  intellect  investigate  their 
causes.  Yet  these  calamities  are  extreme;  I 

*  Famil.  Lib.  4.  Ep.  1. 

t   Famil.  Lib.  8.  Ep.  1,  2,  3,  4,  5. 


OF  PETRARCH.  J59 

see  them,  I  suffer  them :  I  know  that  I  have 
already  lived  two  years  too  long*.'.' 

XVIII.  HENCE,  from  reflecting  upon  the 
mournful  events  which  so  closely  preceded 
and  followed  the  loss  of  the  woman  from 
whom  alone  he  had  long  expected  his  happi 
ness,  his  hopes  were  wholly  turned  to  a  future 
existence.  Pursuing  a  plan  of  wisdom,  which 
was  unsuited  to  his  restless  mind,  he  con 
ceived — "  That,  to  cure  all  his  miseries,  he 
must  study  them  night  and  day — that  to  ac 
complish  this  project  effectually,  he  must  re 
nounce  all  other  desires — and  that  the  only 
means  of  arriving  at  a  total  forgetfulness  of 
life,  was  to  reflect  perpetually  on  death f." 
The  power  of  executing  his  resolutions  was 
not  equal  to  his  ardour  in  planning  them,  and 
his  faculties  were  exhausted  by  conflicting  im 
pulses.  After  he  had  accustomed  himself  to 
look  on  death  without  dread,  it  again  appeared 
to  him  under  fearful  forms.  He  was  seized 
with  sudden  lethargies,  which  rendered  him 
absolutely  insensible ;  and  for  the  space  of 
thirty  hours,  his  body  appeared  like  a  corpsej. 

*  Famtl.  Lib.  8.  Ep.  7.— an.  1349. 
t  De  Secret.  Confl.  coll.  1. 

I  Senil.  Lib.  3.  Ep.  7.— Lib.  9.  Ep.  2.— Lib.  13.  Ep.  9.— 
Lib.  15.  Ep.  14. — Lib.  11.  Ep.  ult. 


160  ON  THE  CHARACTER 

When  he  revived,  he  testified,  that  he  had 
experienced  neither  terror  nor  pain.  But,  by 
his  intemperate  meditation  on  eternity  as  a 
Christian  and  as  a  philosopher,  he  provoked 
Nature  to  withhold  the  boon,  which  she  had 
designed  for  him,  of  dying  in  peace.  "  I  lay 
myself  in  my  bed  as  in  my  shroud — suddenly 
I  start  up  in  a  frenzy — I  speak  to  myself — I 
dissolve  in  tears,  so  as  to  make  those  weep 
who  witness  my  condition  *."• — Whatever  he 
saw  or  heard  in  these  paroxysms  of  grief, 
made  him  experience  "  the  torments  of  hell." 
By  degrees  he  found  delight  in  nourishing 
his  sorrows,  and  resigned  himself  during  the 
rest  of  his  life  to  those  reveries  which  beset 
ardent  minds,  and  make  them  ever  regret  the 
past,  and  ever  repent;  ever  grow  weary  of  the 
present,  and  either  hope  or  fear  too  much  from 
the  future.  Four  years  before  his  death,  Pe 
trarch  built  a  new  house  at  Arqua,  near  Padua; 
and  on  the  twentieth  day  of  July,  1374,  the 
eve  of  the  seventieth  anniversary  of  his  birth, 
he  was  found  dead  in  his  library,  with  his 
head  resting  on  a,  book. 

*  De  Secret.  Confl.  coll.  2. 


A  PARALLEL 


BETWEEN 


DANTE    AND   PETRARCH. 


A  PARALLEL 


BETWEEN 


DANTE    AND    PETRARCH. 


L  UN    DISPOSTO    A    PATIRK    E    L  ALTRO    A    FARE. 

DANTE,  PURG.  c.  xxv, 

I.  THE  excess  of  erudition  in  the  age  of  Leo 
the  Tenth,  carried  the  refinements  of  criticism 
so  far  as  even  to  prefer  elegance  of  taste  to 
boldness  of  genius.  The  laws  of  the  Italian 
language  were  thus  deduced,  and  the  models 
of  poetry  selected  exclusively  from  the  works 
of  Petrarch ;  who  being  then  proclaimed  supe 
rior  to  Dante,  the  sentence  remained,  until  our 
times,  unreversed.  Petrarch  himself  mingles 
Dante  indiscriminately  with  others  eclipsed 
by  his  own  fame — 

Ma  ben  ti  prego,  che  in  la  terza  spera, 
Guitton  saluli,  e  Messer  Cino,  e  Dante, 
Franceschin  nostro,  e  tntta  quella  shiera. 
M   2 


164  A  PARALLEL  BETWEEN 

Cosi  or  quinci,  or  quindi  rimirando 
Vidi  in  una  fiorita  e  verde  piaggia 
Gente  che  d'  Amor  givan  ragionando. 

Ecco  Dante,  e  Beatrice:  ecco  Selvaggia, 
Ecco  Cin  da  Pistoja;  Guitton  d' Arezzo  ; 
Ecco  i  due  Guidi  che  gia  furo  in  prezzo; 

Onesto  Bolognese,  e  i  Sicilian!. —          Trionf.  c.  4. 

Salute,  I  pray  thee,  in  the  sphere  of  love, 

Guitton.  my  master  Cino,  Dante  too, 
Our  Franceschin,  all  that  blest  band  above. — 

Thus  while  my  gazing  eyes  around  me  rove, 

I  saw  upon  a  slope  of  flowery  green 
Many  that  held  their  sweet  discourse  of  love: 

Here  Dante  and  his  Beatrice,  there  were  seen 
Selvaggia  and  Cino  of  Pistoia;  there 
Guitton  the  Aretine;   and  the  high-priz'd  pair, 

The  Guidi ;  and  Onesto  these  among, 

And  all  the  masters  of  Sicilian  song.          MILMAN. 

Boccacio,  discouraged  by  the  reputation  of 
these  two  great  'masters,  determined  to  burn 
his  own  poetry.  Petrarch  diverted  him  from 
this  purpose,  writing  with  a  tone  of  humility 
somewhat  inconsistent  with  the  character  of  a 
man  who  was  not  naturally  a  hypocrite.  "  You 
are  a  philosopher  and  a  Christian,"  says  he, 
"  and  yet  you  are  discontented  with  yourself 
for  not  being  an  illustrious  poet!  Since  ano 
ther  has  occupied  \h&  first  place,  be  satisfied 


DANTE  AM)  I'ETRARCH.  ]  65 

with  the  second,  and  I  will  take  the  third*. "- 
Boccacio,  perceiving  the  irony  and  the  allusion, 
sent  Dante's  poem  to  Petrarch,  and  intreated 
that  "  he  would  not  disdain  to  read  the  work 
of  a  great  man,  from  whom  exile  and  death, 
while  he  was  still  in  the  vigour  of  life,  had 
snatched  the  laurelf." — "  Read  it,  I  conjure 
you ;  your  genius  reaches  to  the  heavens,  and 
your  glory  extends  beyond  the  earth :  but 
reflect  that  Dante  is  our  fellow-citizen;  that 
he  has  shewn  all  the  force  of  our  language ; 
that  his  life  was  unfortunate;  that  he  under 
took  and  suffered  every  thing  for  glory ;  and 
that  he  is  still  pursued  by  calumny,  and  by 
envy,  in  the  grave.  If  you  praise  him,  you 
will  do  honour  to  him — you  will  do  honour 
to  yourself — you  will  do  honour  to  Italy,  of 
which  you  are  the  greatest  glory  and  the  only 
hope." 

II.  PETRARCH,  in  his  answer,  is  angry  "that 
he  can  be  considered  jealous  of  the  celebrity  of 
a  poet  "  whose  language  is  coarse,  though  his 
conceptions  are  lofty" — "You  must  hold  him 

*  Senil.  Lib.  5.  Ep.  2.  et  3. 
t  Nee  tibi  sit  durum  versus  vidisse  poetae 
Exsulis. 


16(j  A  PARALLEL  BETWEEN 

in  veneration  and  in  gratitude,  as  the  first  light 
of  your  education,  whilst  I  never  saw  him  but 
once,  at  a  distance,  or  rather  he  was  pointed 
out  to  me,  while  I  was  still  in  my  childhood. 
He  was  exiled  on  the  same  day  with  my 
father,  who  submitted  to  his  misfortunes,  and 
devoted  himself  solely  to  the  care  of  his  chil 
dren.  The  other,  on  the  contrary,  resisted, 
followed  the  path  which  he  had  chosen, 
thought  only  of  glory,  and  neglected  every 
thing  else.  If  he  were  still  alive,  and  if  his 
character  were  as  congenial  to  mine  as  his 
genius  is,  he  would  not  have  a  better  friend 
than  me*." — This  letter  lengthened  out  by 
contradictions,  ambiguities,  and  indirect  apo 
logies,  points  out  the  individual  by  circumlocu 
tions,  as  if  the  name  was  withheld  through  cau 
tion  or  through  awe.  Some  maintain  that  Dante 
is  not  referred  tot;  but  the  authentic  list  J  still 
existing,  of  the  Florentines  banished  on  the  27th 
of  January  1302,  contains  the  names  of  Dante 
and  the  lather  of  Petrarch,  and  that  of  no 
other  individual  to  whom  it  is  possible  to  apply 

*  Petr.  Epist.  edit.  Ginevr.  an.  1601.  p.  445. 
t  TIRABOSCHI,  Storia  della  Let.  Ital.  vol.  9.  lib.  3.  cap.  2. 
sect.  10. 

I  MUKATORI,  Script.  Rer.  Ital.  vol.  10.  p.  501. 


DANTE  AND  PETRARCH.  167 

any  one  of  the  circumstances  mentioned  in  the 
letter,  whilst  each,  and  the  whole  of  them, 
apply  strictly  to  Dante. 


.  THESE  two  founders  of  Italian  litera 
ture,  were  gifted  with  a  very  different  genius, 
pursued  different  plans,  established  two  differ 
ent  languages  and  schools  of  poetry,  and  have 
exercised  till  the  present  time  a  very  different 
influence.  Instead  of  selecting,  as  Petrarch 
does,  the  most  elegant  and  melodious  words 
and  phrases,  Dante  often  creates  a  new  lan 
guage,  and  summons  all  the  various  dialects 
of  Italy  to  furnish  him  with  combinations  that 
might  represent,  not  only  the  sublime  and 
beautiful,  but  even  the  commonest  scenes  of 
nature;  all  the  wild  conceptions  of  his  fancy; 
the  most  abstract  theories  of  philosophy,  and 
the  most  abstruse  mysteries  of  religion.  A 
simple  idea,  a  vulgar  idiom,  takes  a  different 
colour  and  a  different  spirit  from  their  pen. 
The  conflict  of  opposite  purposes  thrills  in  the 
heart  of  Petrarch,  and  battles  in  the  brain  of 
Dante  — 

Ne  si  ne  no  nel  cor  dentro  mi  suona.  —  PETR. 
Che  si  e  no  nel  capo  mi  tenzona.  —  DANTE. 
At  war  'twixt  will  and  will  not.  —  SHAKSPEARE. 


168  A  PARALLEL  BETWEEN 

Tasso  expressed  it  with  that  dignity  from 
which  he  never  departs — 

In  gran  tempesta  di  pensieri  ondeggia. 

Yet  not  only  does  this  betray  an  imitation  of 
the  magno  curarum  jluctuat  astu  of  Virgil ;  but 
Tasso,  by  dreading  the  energy  of  the  idiom 
si  e  no,  lost,  as  he  does  too  often,  the  graceful 
effect  produced  by  ennobling  a  vulgar  phrase — 
an  artifice  which,  however,  in  the  pastoral  of 
Aminta  he  has  most  successfully  employed. 
His  notion  of  epic  style  was  so  refined,  that 
while  he  regarded  Dante  "  as  the  greatest 
poet  of  Italy,"  he  often  asserted,  "  had  he  not 
sacrificed  dignity  and  elegance,  he  would  have 
been  the  first  of  the  world." —  No  doubt  Dante 
sometimes  sacrificed  even  decorum  and  per 
spicuity  ;  but  it  was  always  to  impart  more 
fidelity  to  his  pictures,  or  more  depth  to  his 
reflections.  He  says  to  himself— 

Parla,  e  sie  breve  e  arguto. — 
Speak ;  and  be  brief,  be  subtile  in  thy  words. 

He  says  to  his  reader — 

Or  ti  riman,  letter,  sovra  '1  tuo  banco, 
Dietro  pensando  a  cio,  che  si  preliba, 
S'  esser  vuoi  lieto  assai  prima,  che  stance. 

A/CAW  t'  ho  innanzi ;  omai  per  te  ti  ciba. 


DANTE  AND  PETRARCH.  I(j9 

Now  rest  thee,  reader,  on  thy  bench,  and  muse 
Anticipative  of  the  feast  to  come ; 
So  shall  delight  make  thee  not  feel  thy  toil. 
Lo  !  I  have  set  before  thee ;  for  thyself 
Feed  now.  GARY'S  Transl. 

.v/iV.  As  to  their  versification,   Petrarch  at 
tained  the  main  object  of  erotic  poetry  ;  which 
is,    to    produce    a   constant    musical    flow   in 
strains   inspired    by   the   sweetest   of   human 
passions.     Dante's  harmony  is  less  melodious, 
but  is  frequently  the  result  of  more  powerful 
art 
s'  i'  avessi  le  rime  e  aspre  e  chiocce, 
Come  si  converebbe  al  tristo  buco, 
Sovra  '1  qual  pontan  tutte  1'altre  rocce, 

I'  premerei  di  mio  concetto  il  suco 
Piu  pienamente  :  ma  perch'  i'  non  1'  abbo, 
Non  senza  tema  a  dicer  mi  conduce : 

Che  non  e  impresa  da  pigliare  a  gabbo, 
Descriver  fondo  a  tutto  1'  universe, 
Ne  da  lingua,  che  chiami  mamma  o  babbo. 

Ma  quelle  donne  ajutino  '1  mio  verso, 
Ch'  ajutaro  Anfione  a  chiuder  Tebe, 
Si  che  dal  fatto  il  dir  non  sia  diverse. 

Oh  !  had  1  rough  hoarse  thunder  in  my  verse, 
To  match  this  gulph  of  woe  on  all  sides  round 
O'erbrow'd  by  rocks,  then  dreadfully  should  roar 
The  mighty  torrent  of  my  song :  such  powers 
1  boast  not ;   but  with  shuddering  awe  attempt 
The  solemn  theme.      The  world's  extremes!  depth 


170  A  PARALLEL  BETWEEN 

Requires  no  infant  babbling,  but  the  choir 

Of  tuneful  virgins  to  assist  my  strain, 

By  whose  symphonious  aid  Amphion  raised 

The  Theban  walls, — but  truth  shall  guide  my  tongue. 

N.  HOWARD'S  Transl. 

Here  the  poet  evidently  hints  that  to  give 
colour  and  strength  to  ideas  by  the  sound  of 
words,  is  one  of  the  necessary  requisites  of 
the  art.  The  six  first  lines  are  made  rough  by 
a  succession  of  consonants.  But  when  he  de 
scribes  a  quite  different  subject,  the  words  are 
more  flowing  with  vowels — 

O  anime  affannate, 
Venite  a  noi  parlar,  s'  altri  nol  niega. 
Quali  colombe  dal  desio  chiamate, 
Con  1'  ali  aperte  e  ferme  al  dolce  nido, 
Volan  per  1'  aer  dal  voler  portate. 

"  O  wearied  spirits  !  come,  and  hold  discourse 
With  us,  if  by  none  else  restrain'd."     As  doves 
By  fond  desire  invited,  on  wide  wings 
And  firm,  to  their  sweet  nest  returning  home, 
Cleave  the  air,  wafted  by  their  will  along. 

GARY'S  Transl. 

This  trsnslator  frequently  contravenes  the 
position  of  his  author,  who,  chiefly  depending 
upon  the  effect  of  his  versification,  says,  that 
"  nothing  harmonized  by  musical  enchainment, 
can  be  transmuted  from  one  tongue  into  another, 


DANTE  AND  PETRARCH.  17] 

without  destroying  all  its  sweetness  and  har 
mony*." — The  plan  of  Dante's  poem  required 
that  he  should  pass  from  picture  to  picture,  from 
passion  to  passion.  He  varies  the  tone  in  the 
different  scenes  of  his  journey  as  rapidly  as  the 
crowd  of  spectres  flitted  before  his  eyes  ;  and 
he  adapts  the  syllables  and  the  cadences  of  each 
line,  in  such  an  artful  manner  as  to  give  energy, 
by  the  change  of  his  numbers,  to  those  images 
which  he  intended  to  represent.  For  in  the 
most  harmonious  lines,  there  is  no  poetry, 
whenever  they  fail  to  excite  that  glow  of  rap 
ture,  that  exquisite  thrill  of  delight,  which 
arises  from  the  easy  and  simultaneous  agitation 
of  all  our  faculties — this  the  poet  achieves  by 
powerful  use  of  imagery. 

\/V.  IMAGES  in  poetry  work  upon  the  mind 
according  to  the  process  of  nature  herself; — 
first,  they  gain  upon  our  senses — then,  touch 
the  heart — afterwards  strike  our  imagination — 
and  ultimately  they  imprint  themselves  upon 
our  memory,  and  call  forth  the  exertion  of  our 
reason,  which  consists  mainly  in  the  examina 
tion  and  comparison  of  our  sensations.  This 
process,  indeed,  goes  on  so  rapidly  as  to  be 
hardly  perceived  ;  yet  all  the  gradations  of  it 

*   DANTE,  Convito. 


172  A  PARALLEL   BETWEEN 

are  visible  to  those  who  have  the  power  of 
reflecting  upon  the  operations  of  their  own 
minds.  Thoughts  are  in  themselves  only  the 
raw  material :  they  assume  one  form  or  an 
other  ;  they  receive  more  or  less  brilliancy  and 
warmth,  more  or  less  novelty  and  richness, 
according  to  the  genius  of  the  writer.  It  is  by 
compressing  them  in  an  assemblage  of  melo 
dious  sounds,  of  warm  feelings,  of  luminous 
metaphors,  and  of  deep  reasoning,  that  poets 
transform,  into  living  and  eloquent  images, 
many  ideas  that  lie  dark  and  dumb  in  our 
mind ;  and  it  is  by  the  magic  presence  of 
poetical  images,  that  we  are  suddenly  and  at 
once  taught  to  feel,  to  imagine,  to  reason,  and 
to  meditate,  with  all  the  gratification,  and  with 
none  of  the  pain,  which  commonly  attends 
every  mental  exertion.  The  notion,  "  that 
memory  and  the  art  of  writing  preserve  all 
human  knowledge" — the  notion,  "  that  hope 
forsakes  not  man  even  on  the  brink  of  the 
grave,  and  that  the  expectations  of  the  dying 
man  are  still  kept  alive  by  the  prospect  of  a 
life  hereafter" — are  truths  most  easy  of  com 
prehension,  for  they  are  forced  upon  us  by 
every  day's  experience.  Still  the  abstract 
terms  in  which  every  general  maxim  must 
inevitably  be  involved,  are  incapable  of  creat- 


DANTE  AND  PETRARCH.  173 

ing  the  simultaneous  excitement  by  which  all 
our  faculties  mutually  aid  each  other:  as  when 
the  poet  addresses  MEMORY— 

Ages  and  climes  remote  to  thee  impart 

What  charms  in  Genius,  and  refines  in  Art ; 

Thee,  in  whose  hands  the  keys  of  Science  dwell, 

The  pensive  portress  of  her  holy  cell ; 

Whose  constant  vigils  chase  the  chilling  damp, 

Oblivion  steals  upon  her  vestal  lamp — 

PLEASURES  OF   MEMORY. 

with  the  metaphysical  expressions  of  Genius, 
Art,  Science,  are  interwoven  objects  proper  to 
affect  the  senses,  so  that  the  reader  sees  the 
maxim  set  before  him  as  in  a  picture. — By 
means  of  images  only,  poets  can  claim  the 
merit  of  originality ;  for  by  the  multiplied 
combination  of  very  few  notions,  they  produce 
novelty  and  form  groupes,  which,  though  dif 
fering  in  design  and  character,  all  exhibit  the 
same  truth.  The  following  Italian  passage  on 
Memory  has  not  the  slightest  resemblance  to 
the  English  lines;  yet  the  diversity  lies  only 
in  the  varied  combination  of  images — "  The 
Muses  sit  by  the  tomb,  and  when  Time's  icy 
wing  sweeps  away  alike  the  marble,  and  the 
dust  of  man,  with  their  song  they  cheer  the 
desert  waste,  and  harmony  overcomes  the  si 
lence  of  a  thousand  generations"- 


174  A   PARALLEL  BETWEEN 

Siedon  le  Muse  su  le  tombe,  e  quando 
II  Tempo  con  sue  fredde  ali  vi  spazza 
I  marmi  e  1'ossa,  quelle  Dee  fan  lieti 
Di  lor  canto  i  deserti,  e  1'armonia 
Vince  di  mille  e  mille  anni  il  silenzio. 

And  what  could  be  said  of  our  expectations  of 
immortality,  which  is  not  all  contained  and 
unfolded  in  this  invocation  to  HOPE  ? 

Thou,  undismay'd,  shalt  o'er  the  ruin  smile, 
And  light  thy  torch  at  Nature's  funeral  pile. 

PLEASURES  OF  HOPE. 

-  VI.  PETRARCH'S  images  seem  to  be  exqui 
sitely  finished  fay  a  very  delicate  pencil :  they 
delight  the  eye  rather  by  their  colouring  than 
by  their  forms.  Those  of  Dante  are  the  bold 
and  prominent  figures  of  an  alto  rilievo,  which, 
it  seems,  we  might  almost  touch,  and  of  which 
the  imagination  readily  supplies  those  parts 
that  are  hidden  from  the  view.  The  common 
place  thought  of  the  vanity  of  human  renown 
is  thus  expressed  by  Petrarch — 

O  ciechi,  il  tanto  affaticar  che  giova  ? 
Tutti  tornate  alia  gran  madre  antica, 
E  il  vostro  nome  appena  si  ritrova. 

O  blind  of  intellect !  of  what  avail 

Are  your  long  toils  in  this  sublunar  vale  ? 


DANTE  AND  PETRARCH.  175 

Tell,  ye  benighted  souls !   what  gains  accrue 
Frdm  the  sad  task,  which  ceaseless  ye  pursue  ? 
Ye  soon  must  mingle  with  the  dust  ye  tread ; 
And  scarce  your  name  upon  a  stone  be  read. 

BOYD'S  Transl. 

and  by  Dante, 

La  vostra  nominanza  e  color  d'erba, 
Che  viene  e  va  ;  e  quei  la  discolora 
Per  cui  vien  fuori  della  terra  acerba. 

Your  mortal  fame  is  like  the  grass  whose  hue 
Doth  come  and  go  ;  by  the  same  sun  decay'd, 
From  which  it  life,  and  health,  and  freshness  drew. 

MERIT  ALE. 

The  three  lines  of  Petrarch  have  the  great 
merit  of  being  more  spirited,  and  of  conveying 
more  readily  the  image  of  the  earth  swallow 
ing  up  the  bodies  and  names  of  all  men ;  but 
those  of  Dante,  in  spite  of  their  stern  pro 
fundity,  have  the  still  greater  merit  of  leading 
us  on  to  ideas  to  which  we  should  not  our 
selves  have  reached.  Whilst  he  reminds  us, 
that  time,  which  is  necessary  for  the  consum 
mation  of  all  human  glory,  ultimately  destroys 
it,  the  changing  colour  of  grass  presents  the 
revolutions  of  ages,  as  the  natural  occurrence 
of  a  few  moments.  It  is  by  mentioning  "  the 
great  periods  of  time"  that  an  old  English 


]76  A  PARALLEL   BETWEEN 

poet  has  lessened  this  very  idea  which  he 
intended  to  magnify — 

I  know  that  all  beneath  the  moon  decays; 
And  what  by  mortals  in  this  world  is  brought, 
In  time's  great  periods  shall  return  to  nought. 

I  know  that  all  the  muse's  heavenly  lays, 
With  toil  of  sprite  which  are  so  dearly  bought, 
As  idle  sounds,  of  few  or  none  are  sought, 

That  there  is  nothing  lighter  than  mere  praise. 

DRUMMOND  of  Hawthornden. 

Again,  instead  of  the  agency  of  time,  Dante 
employs  the  agency  of  the  sun;  because,  con 
veying  to  us  a  less  metaphysical  idea,  and 
being  an  object  more  palpable  to  the  senses, 
it  abounds  with  more  glorious  and  evident 
images,  and  fills  us  with  greater  wonder  and 
admiration.  Its  application  is  more  logical 
also,  since  every  notion  which  we  have  of 
time,  consists  in  the  measure  of  it,  which  is 
afforded  by  the  periodical  revolutions  of  the 
sun. 

VII.  WITH  respect  to  the  different  pleasure 
these  two  poets  afford,  it  has  been  already 
remarked,  that  Petrarch  calls  forth  the  sweet 
est  sympathies,  and  awakens  the  deepest  emo 
tions,  of  the  heart:  and  whether  they  be  of  a 


DANTE  AM)  PETRARCH.  177 

sad,  or  of  a  lively  cast,  we  eagerly  wish  for 
them,  because,  the  more  they  agitate  us,  the 
more  strongly  they  quicken  our  consciousness 
of  existence.  Still,  as  we  are  perpetually 
striving  against  pain,  and  hurried  on  in  the 
constant  pursuit  of  pleasure,  our  hearts  would 
sink  under  their  own  agitations,  were  they 
abandoned  by  the  dreams  of  imagination,  with 
which  we  are  providentially  gifted  to  enlarge 
our  stock  of  happiness,  and  to  gild  with  bright 
illusions  the  sad  realities  of  life.  Great  writers 
alone  can  so  control  the  imagination,  as  to 
make  it  incapable  of  distinguishing  these  illu 
sions  from  the  reality.  If,  in  a  poem,  the  ideal 
and  fanciful  predominate,  we  may  indeed  be 
surprised  for  a  moment,  but  can  never  be 
brought  to  feel  for  objects  which  either  have 
no  existence,  or  are  too  far  removed  from  our 
common  nature — and  on  the  other  hand,  if 
poetry  dwell  too  much  on  realities,  we  soon 
grow  weary;  for  we  see  them  wherever  we 
turn ;  they  sadden  each  minute  of  our  exist 
ence;  they  disgust  us  ever,  because  we  know 
them  even  to  satiety : — again,  if  reality  and 
fiction  be  not  intimately  blended  into  one 
whole,  they  mutually  oppose  and  destroy 
one  another.  Petrarch  does  not  afford  many 


180  A  PARALLEL  BETWEEN 

Vedi  quant'  arte  indora,  e  imperla,  e  innostra 
L'  abito  eletto,  e  mai  non  visto  altrove, 
Che  dolcemente  i  piedi,  e  gli  occhi  move 
Per  questa  di  bei  colli  ombrosa  chiostra. 

L'erbetta  verde,  e  i  fior  di  color  mille 
Sparsi  sotto  quell'  elce  antiqua  e  negra, 
Pregan  pur  che  '1  bel  pie'  li  prema  o  tocchi ; 

E  '1  ciel  di  vaghe  e  lucide  faville 
S'  accende  intorno,  e'n  vista  si  rallegra 
D'  esser  fatto  seren  da  si  begli  occhi. 

Here  stand  we,  Love,  our  glory  to  behold — 

How,  passing  nature,  lovely,  high,  and  rare  ! 

Behold  !    what  showers  of  sweetness  falling  there ! 
•  What  floods  of  light  by  heav'n  to  earth  unroll'd  ! 
How  shine  her  robes,  in  purple,  pearls,  and  gold 

So  richly  wrought,  with  skill  beyond  compare ! 

How  glance  her  feet! — her  beaming  eyes  how  fair 
Through  the  dark  cloister  which  these  hills  enfold  ! 
The  verdant  turf,  and  flowers  of  thousand  hues 

Beneath  yon  oak's  old  canopy  of  state, 

Spring  round  her  feet  to  pay  their  amorous  duty. 
The  heavens,  in  joyful  reverence,  cannot  choose 

But  light  up  all  their  fires,  to  celebrate 

Her  praise,  whose  presence  charms  their  awful  beauty. 

MERIVALE. 

This  description  makes  us  long  to  find  such  a 
woman  in  the  world  ;  but  while  we  admire  the 
poet,  and  envy  him  the  bliss  of  his  amorous 
transports,  we  cannot  but  perceive  that  the 
flowers  "  that  courted  the  tread  of  her  foot," 
the  sky  "  that  grew  more  beautiful  in  her 


DANTE  AND  I'ETRARCH.  181 

presence,"  the  atmosphere  *'  that  borrowed 
new  splendour  from  her  eyes,"  are  mere  vi 
sions  which  tempt  us  to  embark  with  him  in 
the  pursuit  of  an  unattainable  chimaera.  We 
are  induced  to  think,  that  Laura  must  have 
been  endowed  with  more  than  human  loveli 
ness,  since  she  was  able  to  kindle  her  lover's 
imagination  to  such  a  degree  of  enthusiasm, 
as  to  cause  him  to  adopt  such  fantastic  illu 
sions,  and  we  conceive  the  extremity  of  his 
passion ;  but  cannot  share  his  amorous  ecsta 
sies  for  a  beauty  which  we  never  beheld  and 
never  shall  behold. 

IX.  ON  the  contrary,  the  beautiful  maiden 
seen  afar  off  by  Dante,  in  a  landscape  of  the 
terrestrial  paradise,  instead  of  appearing  an 
imaginary  being,  seems  to  unite  in  herself  all 
the  attractions  which  are  found  in  those  lovely 
creatures  we  sometimes  meet,  whom  we  grieve 
to  lose  sight  of,  and  to  whom  fancy  is  perpe 
tually  recurring — the  poet's  picture  recals  the 
original  more  distinctly  to  our  memory,  and 
enshrines  it  in  our  imagination — 

Una  donna  soletta,  che  si  gia 
Cantando  ed  isciegliendo  fior  da  fiore, 
Ond'  era  pinta  tutta  la  sua  via. 

Deh  bella  donna,  ch'  a'  raggi  d'amore 
Ti  scaldi,  s'  io  vo'  credere  a'  sembianti, 
Che  soglion'  esser  testimon  del  cuore, 


lyg  A  PARALLEL  BETWEEN 

Vengati  voglia  di  trarreti  avanti, 
Diss'  io  a  lei,  verso  questa  riviera, 
Tanto  ch'  io  possa  intender  che  tu  canti. — 

Come  si  volge  con  le  piante  strette 
A  terra,  e  intra  se,  donna  che  balli, 
E  piede  innanzi  piede  a  pena  mette, 

Volsesi  'n  su'  vermigli  ed  in  su'  gialli 
Fioretti,  verso  me,  non  altrimenti, 
Che  vergine,  che  gli  occhi  onesti  avvalli ; 

E  fece  i  prieghi  miei  esser  contenti, 
Si  appressando  se,  che  '1  dolce  suono 
Veniva  a  me  co'  suoi  intendimenti. 

I  beheld 

A  lady  all  alone,  who,  singing,  went, 
And  culling  flower  from  flower,  wherewith  her  way 
Was  all  o'er  painted.      "  Lady  beautiful ! 
Thou,  who  (if  looks,  that  use  to  speak  the  heart, 
Are  worthy  of  our  trust)  with  love's  own  beam 
Dost  warm  thee,"  thus  to  her  my  speech  I  fram'd ; 
"  Ah !    please  thee  hither  tow'rds  the  streamlet  bend 
Thy  steps  so  near,  that  I  may  list  thy  song."— 

As  when  a  lady,  turning  in  the  dance, 
Doth  foot  it  featly,  and  advances  scarce 
One  step  before  the  other  to  the  ground  ; 
Over  the  yellow  and  vermillion  flowers 
Thus  turn'd  she  at  my  suit,  most  maiden-like, 
Veiling  her  sober  eyes  :  and  came  so  near, 
That  I  distinctly  caught  the  dulcet  sound. 

GARY'S  Transl. 

Such  is  the  amazing  power  with  which  Dante 
mingles  the  realities  of  nature  with  ideal  ac 
cessories,  that  he  creates  an  illusion  which  no 


DANTE  AND  PETRARCH,  j  #3 

subsequent  reflection  is  able  to  dissipate.  All 
that  grace  and  beauty,  that  warmth  and  light 
of  love,  that  vivacity  and  cheerfulness  of  youth, 
that  hallowed  modesty  of  a  virgin,  which  we 
observe,  though  separately  and  intermixed 
with  defects,  in  different  persons,  are  here  con 
centrated  into  one  alone ;  whilst  her  song,  her 
dance,  and  her  gathering  of  flowers,  give  life, 
and  charm,  and  motion,  to  the  picture. — To 
judge  fairly  between  these  two  poets,  it  ap 
pears,  that  Petrarch  excels  in  awakening  the 
heart  to  a  deep  feeling  of  its  existence ;  and 
Dante,  in  leading  the  imagination  to  add  to  the 
interest  and  novelty  of  nature.  Probably  a 
genius  never  existed,  that  enjoyed  these  two 
powers  at  once  in  a  pre-eminent  degree. 

X.  HAVING  both  worked  upon  plans  suited 
to  their  respective  talents,  the  result  has  been 
two  kinds  of  poetry,  productive  of  opposite 
moral  effects.  Petrarch  makes  us  see  every 
thing  through  the  medium  of  one  predominant 
passion,  habituates  us  to  indulge  in  those 
propensities  which  by  keeping  the  heart  in 
perpetual  disquietude,  paralize  intellectual  ex 
ertion — entice  us  into  a  morbid  indulgence  of 
our  feelings,  and  withdraw  us  from  active  life. 
Dante,  like  all  primitive  poets,  is  the  historian 


184  A  PARALLEL  BRTWKKN 

of  the  manners  of  his  age,  the  prophet  of  his 
country,  and  the  painter  of  mankind;  and  calls 
into  action  all  the  faculties  of  our  soul  to  re- 
•flect  on  all  the  vicissitudes  of  the  world.  He 
describes  all  passions,  all  actions — the  charm 
and  the  horror  of  the  most  different  scenes.  He 
places  men  in  the  despair  of  Hell,  in  the  hope 
of  Purgatory,  and  in  the  blessedness  of  Para 
dise.  He  observes  them  in  youth,  in  manhood, 
and  in  old  age.  He  has  brought  together  those 
of  both  sexes,  of  all  religions,  of  all  occupa 
tions,  of  different  nations,  and  ages ;  yet  he 
never  takes  them  in  masses — he  always  pre 
sents  them  as  individuals;  speaks  to  every  one 
of  them,  studies  their  words,  and  watches  their 
countenances. —  "  I  found,"  says  he,  in  a  letter 
to  Can  della  Scala,  "  the  original  of  my  Hell, 
in  the  earth  we  inhabit."  While  describing  the 
realms  of  death,  he  catches  at  every  opportu 
nity  to  bring  us  back  to  the  occupations  and 
affections  of  the  living  world.  Perceiving  the 
sun  about  to  quit  our  hemisphere,  he  breaks 
out  into — 

Era  gia  1'  ora,  che  volge  '1  desio 
A'  naviganti,  e  intenerisce  il  core 
Lo  di,  ch'han  detto  a' dolci  amici  Addio; 

E  che  lo  nuovo  peregrin  d'  amore 
Punge,  se  ode  squilla  di  lontano, 
The  paja  '1  giorno  pianger,  che  si  muore. 


DANTE  AND  PETRARCH.  ]  #5 

'Twas  now  the  hour  when  fond  desire  renews 

To  him  who  wanders  o'er  the  pathless  main, 
Raising  unbidden  tears,  the  last  adieus 

Of  tender  friends,  whom  fancy  shapes  again  ; 
When  the  late  parted  pilgrim  thrills  with  thought 

Of  his  lov'd  home,  if  o'er  the  distant  plain, 
Perchance,  his  ears  the  village  chimes  have  caught, 

Seeming  to  mourn  the  close  of  dying  day. 

MERIVALE. 

There  is  a  passage  very  like  this  in  Apollo- 
niusRhodius,  whose  many  beauties,  so  admired 
in  the  imitations  of  Virgil,  are  seldom  sought 
for  in  the  original. — 

Night  then  brought  darkness  o'er  the  earth :  at  sea 
The  mariners  their  eyes  from  shipboard  raised, 
Fix'd  on  the  star  Orion,  and  the  Bear. 
The  traveller,  and  the  keeper  of  the  gate, 
Rock'd  with  desire  of  sleep;  and  slumber  now 
Fell  heavy  on  some  mother,  who  had  wept 
Her  children  in  the  grave.  ELTON'S  Transl. 

By  digressions  similar  to  this,  introduced 
without  apparent  art  or  effort,  JDante  interests 
us  for  all  mankind:  whilst  Petrarch,_bejng  in 
terested  only  about  himself,  alludes  to  men  at 
sea  at  eventide,  ojiiy^to^xcite  greaterjxunpas- 
sion  for  his  own  sufferings  — 

E  i  naviganti  in  qualche  chiusa  valle 
Gettan  le  membra,  poi  che  '1  sol  s'asconde, 

N    5 


184  A   PARALLEL  BKTWKBN 

of  the  manners  of  his  age,  the  prophet  of  his 
country,  and  the  painter  of  mankind;  and  calls 
into  action  all  the  faculties  of  our  soul  to  re- 
•flect  on  all  the  vicissitudes  of  the  world.  He 
describes  all  passions,  all  actions — the  charm 
and  the  horror  of  the  most  different  scenes.  He 
places  men  in  the  despair  of  Hell,  in  the  hope 
of  Purgatory,  and  in  the  blessedness  of  Para 
dise.  He  observes  them  in  youth,  in  manhood, 
and  in  old  age.  He  has  brought  together  those 
of  both  sexes,  of  all  religions,  of  all  occupa 
tions,  of  different  nations,  and  ages ;  yet  he 
never  takes  them  in  masses — he  always  pre 
sents  them  as  individuals;  speaks  to  every  one 
of  them,  studies  their  words,  and  watches  their 
countenances. —  "  I  found,"  says  he,  in  a  letter 
to  Can  della  Scala,  "  the  original  of  my  Hell, 
in  the  earth  we  inhabit."  While  describing  the 
realms  of  death,  he  catches  at  every  opportu 
nity  to  bring  us  back  to  the  occupations  and 
affections  of  the  living  world.  Perceiving  the 
sun  about  to  quit  our  hemisphere,  he  breaks 
out  into — 

Era  gia  1'ora,  che  volgc'l  desio 
A'  naviganti,  e  intenerisce  il  core 
Lo  di,  ch'han  detto  a'dolci  amici  Addio; 

R  che  lo  nuovo  peregrin  d'  amore 
Punge,  se  ode  squilla  di  lontano, 
The  paja  '!  giorno  pianger,  che  si  muore. 


DANTE  AND  PETRARCH.  ]  Ho 

'Twas  now  the  hour  when  fond  desire  renews 

To  him  who  wanders  o'er  the  pathless  main, 
Raising  unbidden  tears,  the  last  adieus 

Of  tender  friends,  whom  fancy  shapes  again  ; 
When  the  late  parted  pilgrim  thrills  with  thought 

Of  his  lov'd  home,  if  o'er  the  distant  plain, 
Perchance,  his  ears  the  village  chimes  have  caught, 

Seeming  to  mourn  the  close  of  dying  day. 

MERIVALE. 

There  is  a  passage  very  like  this  in  Apollo- 
niusRhodius,  whose  many  beauties,  so  admired 
in  the  imitations  of  Virgil,  are  seldom  sought 
for  in  the  original. — 

Night  then  brought  darkness  o'er  the  earth :  at  sea 
The  mariners  their  eyes  from  shipboard  raised, 
Fix'd  on  the  star  Orion,  and  the  Bear. 
The  traveller,  and  the  keeper  of  the  gate, 
Rock'd  with  desire  of  sleep  ;  and  slumber  now 
Fell  heavy  on  some  mother,  who  had  wept 
Her  children  in  the  grave.  ELTON'S  Transl. 

By  digressions  similar  to  this,  introduced 
without  apparent  art  or  effort,  j)ante^  interests 
us  for  all  mankind ;  whilst  Petrarchi_bej.ng  in 
terested  only  about  himself,  alludes  to  men  at 
sea  at  eventide,  ojil^JLo  excite  greater  compas- 
sion  for  his  own  sufferings  — 

E  i  naviganti  in  qualche  chiusa  valle 
Gettan  le  membra,  poi  che  '1  sol  s'asconde, 

N    5 


186  A  PARALLEL  BETWEEN 

Sul  duro  legno  e  sotto  1'  aspre  gonne  : 
Ma  io;  perche  s'attuffi  in  mezzo  1'onde, 
E  lassi  Ispagna  dietro  alle  sue  spalle, 
E  Granata  e  Marocco  e  le  Colorme, 
(  E  gli  uomini  e  le  donne 
E  '1  mondo,  e  gli  animali 
Acquetino  i  lor  mali, 
Fine  non  pongo  al  mio  ostinato  affanno : 
E  duolmi  ch'  ogni  giorno  arroge  al  danno; 
Ch'  i'  son  gia  pur  crescendo  in  questa  voglia 
Ben  presso  al  decim'  anno, 
Ne  poss'  indovinar  chi  me  ne  scioglia. 

And  in  some  shelter'd  bay,  at  evening's  close, 
The  mariners  their  rude  coats  round  them  fold, 
Stretch'd  on  the  rugged  plank  in  deep  repose : 
But  I,  though  Phoebus  sink  into  the  main 
And  leave  Granada  wrapt  in  night,  with  Spain, 
Morocco,  and  the  Pillars  famed  of  old, 
Though  all  of  human  kind 
And  every  creature  blest 
All  hush  their  ills  to  rest, 
No  end  to  my  unceasing  sorrows  find  ; 
And  still  the  sad  account  swells  day  by  day  ; 
For  since  these  thoughts  on  my  lorn  spirit  prey, 
I  see  the  tenth  year  roll, 

Nor  hope  of  freedom  springs  in  my  desponding  soul. 

LADY  DACRE. 


Hence  Petrarch's  poetry  wraps  us  in  an  idle 
melancholy,  in  the  softest  and  sweetest  vi 
sions,  in  the  error  of  depending  upon  others' 


DANTE  AND  PETRARCH.  1£7 

affection,  and  leads  us  vainly  to  run  after  per 
fect  happiness,  until  we  plunge  headlong  into 
that  despair  which  ensues, 

When  Hope  has  fled  affrighted  from  thy  face, 
And  giant  Sorrow  fills  the  empty  place. 

Still  those  who  meet  with  this  fate  are  com 
paratively  very  few,  while  far  the  greater  num 
ber  only  learn  from  sentimental  reading  how 
to  work  more  successfully  upon  impassioned 
minds,  or  to  spread  over  vice  a  thicker  cloak 
of  hypocrisy.  The  number  of  Petrarch's  imi 
tators  in  Italy  may  be  ascribed  to  the  example 
of  those  Church  dignitaries  and  learned  men, 
who,  to  justify  their  commerce  with  the  other 
sex,  borrowed  the  language  of  Platonic  love 
from  his  poetry.  It  is  also  admirably  calcu 
lated  for  a  Jesuits'  college,  since  it  inspires 
devotion,  mysticism,  and  retirement,  and  ener 
vates  the  minds  of  youth.  But  since  the 
late  revolutions  have  stirred  up  other  pas 
sions,  and  a  different  system  of  education  has 
been  established,  Petrarch's  followers  have  ra 
pidly  diminished;  and  those  of  Dante  have 
written  poems  more  suited  to  rouse  the  public 
spirit  of  Italy/  Daate_applied  his  poetry  to 
the  vicissitudes  of  his  own  time,  when  li 
berty  was  making  her  dying  struggle  against 


Igy  A  PARALLEL  BETWEEN 

tyranny;  and  he  descended  to  the  tomb  with 
the  last  heroes  of  the  middle  age.  Petrarch 
lived  amongst  those  who  prepared  the  inglo 
rious  heritage  of  servitude  for  the  next  fifteen 
generations. 

XI.  IT  was  about  the  decline  of  Dante's  life 
that  the  constitutions  of  the  Italian  States  un 
derwent  a  total  and  almost  universal  change, 
in  consequence  of  which  a  new  character  was 
suddenly  assumed  by  men,  manners,  literature, 
and  religion.  It  was  then  that  the  Popes  and 
Emperors,  by  residing  out  of  Italy,  abandoned 
her  to  factions,  which  having  fought  for  inde 
pendence  or  for  power,  continued  to  tear  them 
selves  to  pieces  through  animosity,  until  they 
reduced  their  country  to  such  a  state  of  ex 
haustion,  as  to  make  it  an  easy  prey  to  dema 
gogues,  to  despots,  and  to  foreigners.  The 
Guelphs  were  no  longer  sanctioned  by  the 
Church,  in  their  struggle  for  popular  rights 
against  the  feudatories  of  the  empire.  The 
Ghibellines  no  longer  allied  themselves  to  the 
Emperors  to  preserve  their  privileges  as  great 
proprietors.  Florence,  and  other  small  repub 
lics,  after  extirpating  their  nobles,  were  go 
verned  by  merchants,  who,  having  neither  an 
cestors  to  imitate,  nor  generosity  of  sentiment, 


DANTE  AND  PETRARCH.  l#g 

nor  a  military  education,  carried  on  their 
intestine  feuds  by  calumny  and  confiscation. 
Afraid  of  a  domestic  dictatorship,  they  opposed 
their  external  enemies  by  foreign  leaders  of 
mercenary  troops,  often  composed  of  adven 
turers  and  vagabonds  from  every  country,  who 
plundered  friends  and  foes  alike,  exasperated 
the  discords,  and  polluted  the  morals,  of  the 
nation.  French  princes  reigned  at  Naples ; 
and  to  extend  their  influence  over  the  south 
of  Italy,  destroyed  the  very  shadow  of  the 
imperial  authority  there,  by  stimulating  the 
Guelphs  to  all  the  extravagances  of  demo 
cracy.  Meanwhile  the  nobles  who  upheld  the 
Ghibelline  faction  in  the  north  of  Italy,  being 
possessed  of  the  wealth  and  strength  of  the 
country,  continued  to  wage  incessant  civil  wars, 
until  they,  with  their  towns  and  their  vassals, 
were  all  subjected  to  the  military  sway  of  the 
victorious  leaders,  who  were  often  murdered 
by  their  own  soldiers,  and  oftener  by  the  heirs 
apparent  of  their  power.  Venice  alone,  being- 
surrounded  by  the  sea,  and  consequently 
exempted  from  the  danger  of  invasion,  and 
from  the  necessity  of  confiding  her  armies  to  a 
single  patrician,  enjoyed  an  established  form 
of  government.  Nevertheless,  to  preserve  and 
extend  her  colonies  and  her  commerce,  she 


190  A  PARALLEL  BETWEEN 

carried  on,  in  the  Mediterranean,  a  destructive 
contest  with  other  maritime  cities.  The  Ge 
noese  having  lost  their  principal  fleet,  bartered 
their  liberties  with  the  tyrants  of  Lombardy, 
in  exchange  for  assistance.  They  were  thus 
enabled  to  gratify  their  hatred,  and  defeat  the 
Venetians,  who  to  repeat  their  attacks  ex 
hausted  their  resources ;  and  both  states  now 
fought  less  for  interest,  than  revenge.  It  was 
then  that  Petrarch's  exhortations  to  peace  were 
so  haughtily  answered  by  the  Doge  Andrea 
Dandolo*.  Thus  the  Italians,  though  then  the 
arbiters  of  the  seas,  weakened  themselves  to 
such  a  degree,  by  their  blind  animosities,  that, 
in  the  ensuing  century,  Columbus  was  com 
pelled  to  beg  the  aid  of  foreign  princes,  to 
open  that  path  of  navigation  which  has  since 
utterly  destroyed  the  commercial  grandeur  of 
Italy. 

XII.  MEANWHILE  the  Popes  and  Cardinals, 
vigilantly  watched  at  Avignon,  were  some 
times  the  forced,  and  often  the  voluntary,  abet 
tors  of  French  policy.  The  German  Princes, 
beginning  to  despise  the  Papal  excommunica 
tion,  refused  either  to  elect  Emperors  pa- 

*  Essay  on  the  Char,  of  Petr.   Sect.  IV. 


DANTE  AND  PETRARCH.  191 

tronized  by  the  Holy  See,  or  to  lead  forth 
their  subjects  to  the  conquest  of  the  Holy 
Land,  a  device,  by  which  from  the  beginning 
of  the  twelfth  to  the  end  of  the  thirteenth  cen 
tury,  all  the  armies  of  Europe  had  actually 
been  at  the  disposal  of  the  Popes.  The  wild 
and  enterprising  fanaticism  of  religion  having 
thus  ceased  with  the  crusades,  dwindled  into 
a  gloomy  and  suspicious  superstition :  new 
articles  of  belief  brought  from  the  east,  gave 
birth  to  new  Christian  sects:  the  circulation 
of  the  classics,  the  diffusion  of  a  taste  for 
Greek  metaphysics,  and  the  Aristotelian  ma 
terialism,  spread  through  Europe  by  the  writ 
ings  of  Averroes,  induced  some  of  Dante's 
and  Petrarch's  contemporaries  to  doubt  even 
the  existence  of  God*.  It  was  then  deemed 
expedient  to  maintain  both  the  authority  of 
the  Gospel,  and  the  temporal  influence  of  the 
Church,  by  the  arbitrary  and  mysterious  laws 
of  the  Holy  Inquisition.  Several  of  the  Popes 
who  filled  the  chair  of  St.  Peter  during  the 

*  Guido  Cavalcanti  alcana  volta  speculando,  molto  astratto 
dagli  uomini  diveniva  ;  e  percio  che  egli  alquanto  teneva  della 
opinione  degli  Epicurj,  si  diceva  tra  la  gente  volgare  che 
queste  sue  speculazioni  eran  solo  in  cercare  se  trovar  si 
potesse  che  Iddio  non  fosse.  BOCCACIO,  Giorn.  vi.  Nov.  9. — 
See  also  DANTE,  Inf.  cant.  10.,  and  PETRARCH,  Senil.  lib.  5. 
ep.  3. 


A  PARALLEL  BETWEEN 


life  of  Dante,  had  been  originally  friars  of  the 
ordeT  ~0~f~~Str  Dominick,  the  founder  of  that 
tribunal;  and  their_siiccessors,  in  the  age  of 

Petrarclu-were  prelates  of  France,  either  cor- 

^__^. — -^          —  * — • — • — 

nfjjtedJay-luxiU3k_or  devoted  to  the  interest 
of  thei_r_  country. >  The  terror  which  had  been 
propagated  by  the  Dominicans,  was  followed 
by  the  sale  of  indulgences,  and  the  celebration 
of  the  jubilees,  instituted  about  this  time  by 
Boniface  VIII.  As  the  sovereign  pontiffs  were 
no  longer  allowed  to  employ  in  political  pro 
jects  the  riches  which  they  derived  from  their 
religious  ascendancy,  ambition  yielded  to 
covetousness ;  and  they  compounded  their  de 
clining  right  of  bestowing  crowns  for  subsidies 
to  maintain  a  luxurious  court,  and  to  leave  be 
hind  them  a  genealogy  of  wealthy  heirs.  The 
people,  though  exasperated  by  oppression,  and 
eager  for  insurrection,  were  disunited,  and  not 
enlightened  enough  to  bring  about  a  lasting 
revolution.  They  revolted  only  to  overturn 
their  ancient  laws,  to  change  their  masters, 
and  to  yield  to  a  more  arbitrary  government. 
The  monarchs,  opposed  ty  an  ungovernable 
aristocracy,  were  unable  to  raise  armies  suffi 
cient  to  establish  their- power  at  home,  and 
their  conquests  abroad.  Spates -were  aggran 
dized  more  by  craft  than  by  bravery;  and 


DANTE  AND  PETRARCH.  JQ3 

their  rulers  became  less—violent,  and  more 
treacherous.  The  hardy  crimes  of  the  barba 
rous  ages,  gave  place,  by  degrees,  to  the  in 
sidious  vices  of  civilization.  The  cultivation 
of  classical  literature""  improved  the  general 
taste,  and  added  to  the  stores  of  erudition ; 
but  at  the  same  time,  it  enervated  the  bold 
ness  and  originality  of  natural  talent :  and 
those  who  might  have  been  inimitable  writers 
in  their  maternal  language,  were  satisfied  to 
waste  their  powers  in  being  the  imitators  of 
the  Latins.  Authors  ceased  to  take  any  part 
in  passing  events,  and  remained  distant  spec 
tators  of  them.  Some  detailed  to  their  fellow- 
citizens  the  past  glory,  and  warned  them  of 
the  approaching  ruin,  of  their  country ;  and 
others  repaid  their  patrons  with  flattery :  for  it 
was  precisely  in  the  fourteenth  century  that 
tyrannical  governments  began  to  teach  their 
successors  the  policy  of  retaining  men  of  let 
ters  in  their  pay  to  deceive  the  world.  _Such.. 
is  the  concise  history  of  Italy,  during  the  fifty- 
three  years  which  elapsed  from  the  death  of 
Dante  tcTthe  death "oTPetrafch.  ~ 

XIII.  THEIR  endeavours  to  bring  their  cotm- 
try  under  the  government  of  one  sovereign, 
and  to  abolish  the  Pope's  temporal  power, 


194  A  PARALLEL  BETWEEN 

forms  the  only  point  of  resemblance  between 
these  two  characters.  Fortune  seemed  to  have 
conspired  with  nature,  in  order  to  separate  them 
by  an  irreconcilable  diversity.  Dante  went 
through  a  more  regular  course  of  studies,  and 
at  a  time  when  Aristotle  a.nd  Thomas  Aquinas 
reigned  alone  in  universities.  Their  stern  me 
thod  and  maxims  taught  him  to  write  only 
after  long  meditation — to  keep  in  view  "  a 
great  practical  end,  which  is  that  of  human 
life*" — and  to  pursue  it  steadily  with  a  pre 
determined  plan.  Poetical  ornaments  seem 
constantly  employed  by  Dante,  only  to  throw 
a  light  upon  his  subjects;  and  he  never  allows 
his  fancy  to  violate  the  laws  which  he  had 
previously  imposed  upon  his  own  genius — 

L'  ingegno  affreno, 

Perche  non  corra  che  virtu  nol  guidi. — INFERNO. 
Piu  non  mi  lascia  gire  il  fren  dell'arte. — PURO. 

I  rein  and  curb 

The  powers  of  nature  in  me,  lest  they  run 
Where  virtue  guide  not — 

Mine  art 
With  warning  bridle  checks  me. — GARY'S  Transl. 

The  study  of  the  classics,  and  the  growing 
enthusiasm  for  Platonic  speculations  which 

*  DANTE,  Convito. 


I 


DANTE  AND  PETRARCH.  195 

Petrarch  defended  against  the  Aristotelians*, 
coincided  with  his  natural  inclination,  and 
formed  his  mind  on  the  works  of  Cicero, 
Seneca,  and  St.  Augustin.  He  caught  their 
desultory  manner,  their  ornamented  diction, 
even  when  handling  subjects  the  most  unpoe- 
tical;  and,  above  all,  their  mixture  of  indivi 
dual  feelings  with  the  universal  principles  of 
philosophy  and  religion.  His  pen  followed 
the  incessant  restlessness  of  his  soul :  every 
subject  allured  his  thoughts,  and  seldom  were 
all  his  thoughts  devoted  to  one  alone.  Thus 
being  more  eager  to  undertake,  than  persever 
ing  to  complete,  the  great  number  of  his  unfi 
nished  manuscripts  at  last  impressed  him  with 
the  idea,  that  the  result  of  industry  would  be 
little  more  than  that  of  absolute  idleness f. — 
Dante  avows  that  in  his  youth,  he  was  sinking 
beneath  a  long  and  almost  unconquerable  des 
pondence;  and  complains  of  that  stillness  of 
mind  which  enchains  the  faculties  without  de- 

*  This  is  the  main  object  of  his  treatise,  De  sui  ipsitts  et 
m  u/toriim  ignoran  /  id. 

t  Quicqiiid  fere  opusculorum  mi/it  eTcidit  quce  tarn  multa 
fuerunt,  ut  usque  ad  hanc  cefafem,  me  exerceant,  ac  fatigent  : 
fuit  enim  mihi  ut  corpus,  sic  ingcniiim  niagis  pollens  dexteritate, 
quam  riribtis.  Itaquc  multa  mihi  facilia  cogitatu,  qua:  execu- 
tione  difficilia  prcetermisi. — Epist.  ad  Posterit. 
o  2 


196  A  PARALLEL  BETWEEN 

stroying  them*.  But  his  mind,  in  recovering 
its  elasticity,  never  desisted  until  it  had  at 
tained  its  pursuit;  and  no  human  power  or 
interest  could  divert  him  from  his  meditations!. 

XIV.  THE  intellect  of  both  could  only  act 
in  unison  with  the  organic  and  unalterable 
emotions  of  their  hearts.  Dante's  fire  was 
more  deeply  concentrated ;  it  could  burn  with 
one  passion  only  at  a  time :  and  if  Bocca- 
cio  does  not  overcharge  the  picture,  Dante, 
during  several  months  after  the  death  of  Bea 
trice,  had  the  feelings  and  appearance  of  a 
savage  J.  Petrarch  was  agitated  at  the  same 
time  by  different  passions:  they  roused,  but 
they  also  counteracted,  each  other;  and  his 
fire  was  rather  flashing  than  burning — expand 
ing  itself  as  it  were  from  a  soul  unable  to  bear 
all  its  warmth,  and  yet  anxious  to  attract 
through  it  the  attention  of  every  eye.  Vanity 

*  DANTE,  Vita  nuova. 

t  POGGIO, — DANTE,  Purg.  cant.  xvii. 

I  Egli  era  gia,  si  per  lo  lagrimare  e  si  per  1'  afflizione,  che 
al  cuore  sentiva  dentro,  e  si  per  non  aver  di  se  alcuna  cura 
di  fuori,  divenuto  quasi  una  cosa  salvatica  a  riguardare,  ma- 
gro,  barbuto,  e  quasi  tutto  trasformato  da  quello,  che  avanti 
esser  soleva ;  in  tanto  che  '1  suo  aspetto  non  che  negli  amici, 
ma  eziandio  in  ciascun  altro  a  forza  di  se  metteva  compas- 
sione.— BOCCACIO,  Vita  di  Dante. 


DANTE  AND  PETRARCH.  197 

made  Petrarch  ever  eager  and  ever  afraid  of 
the  opinion  even  of  those  individuals  over 
whom  he  felt  his  natural  superiority. — Pride 
was  the  prominent  characteristic  of  Dante. 
He  was  pleased  with  his  sufferings,  as  the 
means  of  exerting  his  fortitude, — and  with 
his  imperfections,  as  the  necessary  attendants 
of  extraordinary  qualities, —  and  with  the  con 
sciousness  of  his  internal  worth,  because  it 
enabled  him  to  look  down  with  scorn  upon 
other  men  and  their  opinions — 

Che  ti  fa  cio  che  quivi  si  pispiglia? — 

Lascia  dir  le  genti ; 
Sta  come  torre  ferma  che  non  crolla 
Giammai  la  cima  per  soffiar  de'  venti. 

How 
Imports  it  thee  what  thing  is  whisper'd  here? — 

To  their  babblings  leave 
The  crowd ;  be  as  a  tower  that  firmly  set, 
Shakes  not  its  top  for  any  blast  that  blows. 

GARY'S  Transl. 

The  power  of  despising,  which  many  boast, 
which  very  few  really  possess,  and  with  which 
Dante  was  uncommonly  gifted  by  nature,  af 
forded  him  the  highest  delight  of  which  a 
lofty  mind  is  susceptible — 

Lo  collo  poi  con  le  braccia  mi  cinse, 
Baciommi  in  volto,  e  disse:   Alma  sdegnosa! 
Benedetta  colei  che  in  te  s'  incinse. 


198  A  PARALLEL  BETWEEN 

Then  with  his  arms  my  neck 
Encircling,  kiss'd  my  cheek  and  spake :  O  soul 
Justly  disdainful !   blest  was  she  in  whom 
Thou  was  conceived.  GARY'S  Transl. 

Dante's  haughty  demeanour  towards  the  princes 
whose  protection  he  solicited,  was  that  of  a 
republican  by  birth,  an  aristocrat  by  party,  a 
statesman,  and   a  warrior,  who,   after  having 
lived  in  affluence  and  dignity,  was  proscribed 
in  his  thirty-seventh  year,  compelled  to  wan 
der   from  town   to   town    "  as   the  man  who 
stripping  his  visage  of  all  shame,  plants  him 
self  in  the  public  way,  and  stretching  out  his 
hand,  trembles  through  every  vein." — •"  I  will 
say  no  more:  I  know  that  my  words  are  dark; 
but  my  countrymen  shall  help  thee  soon  to  a 
comment  on  the  text,  To  tremble  through  every 
vein*''1 — Petrarch,  born  in  exile,  and  brought 
up,  according  to  his  own  confession,  in  indi 
gence  t,  and  as  the  intended  servant  of  a  court, 
was  year  after  year  enriched  by  the  great,  till 
enabled  to  decline  new  favours,  he  alluded  to 
it  with  the  complacency  inevitable  to  all  those 
who,  whether  by  chance,  or  industry,  or  merit, 
have  escaped  from  penury  and  humiliation. 

*  Purgat.  cant.  xi.  towards  the  end. 

t  Honcstis  parentibus,  fortuna  (ut  verumfatear)  ad  inopiam 
rergentc,  not  us  swn. — Epist.  ad  Post. 


DANTE  AND  PETRARCH.  lyg 

XV.  BEING  formed  to  love,  Petrarch  court 
ed  the  good-will  of  others,  sighed  for  more 
friendship  than  human  selfishness  is  willing  to 
allow,  and  lowered  himself  in  the  eyes,  and 
possibly  in  the  affections,  of  the  persons  most 
devoted  to  him.  His  disappointments  in  this 
respect  often  embittered  his  soul,  and  extorted 
from  him  the  confession,  "  that  he  feared  those 
whom  he  loved*."  His  enemies  knowing  that, 
if  he  readily  gave  vent  to  his  anger,  he  was 
still  more  ready  to  forget  injuries,  found  fair 
game  for  ridicule  t  in  his  passionate  temper, 
and  provoked  him  to  commit  himself  even  in 
his  old  age  with  apologies  J. — Dante,  on  the 
contrary,  was  one  of  those  rare  individuals 
who  are  above  the  reach  of  ridicule,  and 
whose  natural  dignity  is  enhanced,  even  by 
the  blows  of  malignity.  In  his  friends  he  in 
spired  less  commiseration  than  awe ;  in  his 
enemies,  fear  and  hatred  —  but  never  con 
tempt.  His  wrath  was  inexorable;  with  him 
vengeance  was  not  only  a  natural  impulse  but 
a  duty§:  and  he  enjoyed  the  certainty  of  that 

*  Senil.  Lib.  13.  Ep.  7. 

t  Indignantissinri  animi,  sed  offcnsarum  obliriosissimi — ira 
mihi  perscrpe  nocuit,  aliis  nunquam. — Epist.  ad  Post. 

J  AOOSTINI,  Scritt.  Venez.  vol.  1.  p.  5. 

§  Che  belfonvr  s'acquisia  in  far  vendetta.  DANTE,  Convito. 
— See  also,  Inferno,  cant.  xxix.  vers.  31 — 36. 


200  A  PARALLEL  BETWEEN 

slow  but  everlasting  revenge  which  "  his  wrath 
brooded  over  in  secret  silence"- 

Fa  dolce  1'  ira  sua  nel  suo  secreto — 
Taci  e  lascia  volger  gli  anni : 
Si  ch'  io  non  posso  dir  se  non  che  pianto 
Giusto  verra  di  retro  a'vostri  danni. 

Let  the  destined  years  come  round : 
Nor  may  I  tell  thee  more,  save  that  the  meed 
Of  sorrow  well-deserved,  shall  quit  your  wrongs. 

GARY'S  Transl. 

One  would  easily  imagine  his  portrait  from 
these  lines : 

Egli  non  ci  diceva  alcuna  cosa : 
Ma  lasciavane  gir,  solo  guardando, 
A  guisa  di  Leon,  quando  si  posa. 

He  spoke  not  aught,  but  let  us  onward  pass, 
Eyeing  us  as  a  Lion  on  his  watch. 

GARY'S  Transl. 

As  Petrarch  without  love  would  probably  never 
have  become  a  great  poet — so  had  it  not  been 
for  injustice  and  persecution  which  kindled 
his  indignation,  Dante,  perhaps,  would  never 
have  persevered  to  complete — 

II  poema  sacro, 

A  cui  han  posto  mano  e  cielo  e  terra, 
Si  che  mi  ha  fatto  per  molti  anni  macro. 


DANTE  AND  I'KTRAKCH.  201 

The  sacred  poem,  that  hath  made 
Both  heaven  and  earth  copartners  in  its  toil, 
And  with  lean  abstinence,  through  many  a  year, 
Faded  my  brow.  GARY'S  Transl. 

XVI.  THE  gratification  of  knowing  and  as 
serting  the  truth,  and  of  being  able  to  make  it 
resound  even  from  their  graves,  is  so  keen  as 
to  outbalance  all  the  vexations  to  which  the 
life  of  men  of  genius  is  generally  doomed,  not 
so  much  by  the  coldness  and  envy  of  mankind, 
as  by  the  burning  passions  of  their  own  hearts. 
This  sentiment  was  a  more  abundant  source  of 
comfort  to  Dante  than  to  Petrarch— 

Mentre  ch'  i'  era  a  Virgilio  congiunto, 
Su  per  lo  monte,  che  1'anime  cura, 
E  discendendo  nel  mondo  defunto, 

Dette  mi  fur  di  mia  vita  futura 
Parole  gravi ;  avvegnach'  io  mi  senta 
Ben  tetragono  a  i  colpi  di  ventura. — 

Ben  veggio,  Padre  mio,  si  come  sprona 
Lo  tempo  verso  me,  per  colpo  darmi 
Tal,  ch'e  piu  grave  a  chi  phi  s'abbandoria: 

Perche  di  previdenza  o  buon  ch' io  m'armi. — 

O  sacrosante  Vergini!  se  fami, 
Freddi,  o  vigilie,  mai  per  voi  soffersi, 
Cagion  mi  sprona  ch'  io  merce  ne  chiami. 

Or  convien  ch'  Elicona  per  me  versi 
Ed  Urania  m'ajuti  col  suo  coro 
Forti  cose  a  pensar  mettere  in  versi. — 


202  A  PARALLEL  BETWEEN 

E  s'  io  al  vero  son  timido  amico, 
Temo  di  perder  vita  tra  coloro, 
Che  questo  tempo  chiameranno  antico.   • 

I,  the  whilst  I  scal'd 
With  Virgil,  the"  soul-purifying  mount, 
And  visited  the  nether  world  of  woe, 
Touching  my  future  destiny  have  heard 
Words  grievous,  though  I  feel  me  on  all  sides 
Well  squar'd  to  fortune's  blows. — 

My  father!  well  I  mark  how  time  spurs  on 
Toward  me,  ready  to  inflict  the  blow, 
Which  falls  most  heavily  on  him  who  most 
Abandoneth  himself.     Therefore  'tis  good 
I  should  forecast. — 

O  ye  thrice  holy  Virgins !   for  your  sakes 
If  e'er  I  suflfer'd  hunger,  cold,  and  watching, 
Occasion  calls  on  me  to  crave  your  bounty. 
Now  through  my  breast  let  Helicon  his  stream 
Pour  copious,  and  Urania  with  her  choir 
Arise  to  aid  me;  while  the  verse  unfolds 
Things,  that  do  almost  mock  the  grasp  of  thought. — 

And,  if  I  am  a  timid  friend  to  truth, 
I  fear  my  life  may  perish  among  those 
To  whom  these  days  shall  be  of  ancient  date. 

GARY'S  Transl. 

And  from  a  letter  of  Dante  lately  discovered  *, 
it  appears  that  about  the  year  1316,  his  friends 
succeeded  in  obtaining  his  restoration  to  his 

*  APPENDIX,  No.  VI. 


DANTE  AND  1'ETftAKCH.  203 

country  and  his  possessions,  on  condition  that 
he  compounded  with  his  calumniators,  avowed 
himself  guilty,  and  asked  pardon  of  the  com 
monwealth.  The  following  was  his  answer  on 
the  occasion,  to  one  of  his  kinsmen,  whom  he 
calls  '  Father,'  because,  perhaps,  he  was  an 
ecclesiastic;  or,  more  probably,  because  he 
was  older  than  the  poet. 

XVII.  "  FROM  your  letter,  which  I  received 
with  due  respect  and  affection,  I  observe  how 
much  you  have  at  heart  my  restoration  to  my 
country.  I  am  bound  to  you  the  more  grate 
fully,  since  an  exile  rarely  finds  a  friend.  But, 
after  mature  consideration,  I  must,  by  my  an 
swer,  disappoint  the  wishes  of  some  little 
minds;  and  I  confide  in  the  judgment  to  which 
your  impartiality  and  prudence  will  lead  you. 
Your  nephew  and  mine  has  written  to  me, 
what  indeed  had  been  mentioned  by  many 
other  friends,  that,  by  a  decree  concerning  the 
exiles,  I  am  allowed  to  return  to  Florence, 
provided  I  pay  a  certain  sum  of  money,  and 
submit  to  the  humiliation  of  asking  and  receiv 
ing  absolution;  wherein,  father,  I  see  two  pro 
positions  that  are  ridiculous  and  impertinent. 
I  speak  of  the  impertinence  of  those  who 
mention  such  conditions  to  me ;  for,  in  your 


004  A  PARALLEL  BETWEEN 

letter,   dictated   by  judgment  and  discretion, 
there  is  no  such  thing.    Is  such  an  invitation  to 
return  to  his  country  glorious  for  Dante,  after 
suffering  in  banishment  almost  fifteen  years? 
Is  it  thus>  then,  they  would  recompence  inno 
cence  which  all   the   world    knows,    and   the 
labour  and  fatigue  of  unremitting  study?     Far 
from  the  man  who  is  familiar  with  philosophy, 
be  the  senseless  baseness  of  a  heart  of  earth, 
that  could  act  like  a  little  sciolist,  and  imitate 
the  infamy  of  some  others,  by  offering  himself 
up  as  it  were  in  chains.     Far  from  the  man 
who  cries  aloud  for  justice,  be   this   compro 
mise,  for   money,  with  his   persecutors.     No, 
father,  this  is  not  the  way  that  shall  lead  me 
back  to  my  country.     But  I  shall  return  with 
hasty  steps,  if  you  or  any  other  can  open  me  a 
way  that  shall  not  derogate  from  the  fame  and 
honour  of  Dante;  but  if  by  no  such  way  Flo 
rence  can   be  entered,    then   Florence  I  will 
never  enter.     What!  shall  I  not  every  where 
enjoy  the  sight  of  the  sun  and  stars?  and  may 
I  not  seek  and  contemplate,  in  every  corner  of 
the  earth  under  the  canopy  of  heaven,  conso 
ling  and  delightful  truth,  without  first  rendering 
myself  inglorious,  nay  infamous,  to  the  people 
and  republic  of  Florence?    Bread,  I  hope,  will 
not  fail  me." — Yet  he  continued  to  experience, 


DANTE  AND  PETRARCH.  205 

How  salt  the  savour  is  of  others'  bread, 

How  hard  the  passage  to  descend  and  climb 

By  others'  stairs.  GARY'S  Transl. 

His  countrymen  persecuted  even  his  memory; 
he  was  excommunicated  after  death  by  the 
Pope,  and  his  remains  were  threatened  to  be 
disinterred  and  burnt,  and  their  ashes  scattered 
to  the  wind*.  Petrarch  closed  his  life  with 
the  reputation  of  a  saint,  for  whom  Heaven 
performed  miracles  t;  and  the  Venetian  Senate 
made  a  law  against  those  who  purloined  his 
bones,  and  sold  them  as  relics  J. 

XVIII.  INDEED  we  might  imagine  that  Pe 
trarch  by  faithfully  and  generously  discharging 
all  the  social  duties  towards  every  body  about 
him,  and  by  constantly  endeavouring  to  sub 
due  his  passions,  was  esteemed  virtuous  and 
felt  happy.  Virtuous  he  was ;  but  he  was 
more  unhappy  than  Dante,  who  never  betray 
ed  that  restlessness  and  perplexity  of  soul 
which  lowered  Petrarch  in  his  own  estimation, 
and  made  him  exclaim  in  his  last  days,  "  In 
my  youth  I  despised  all  the  world  but  myself; 

*  BARTOLUS,  Lex  de  rejudicandis  reist  ad  cod.  1. 
t  Ea  res...i)tir(iculo  ostendit  dirinum  ilium  spirit um  Deo  fa- 
miliarissimum. — VILLANI,  Vit.  Petr.  sul  fine. 
J  TOMASINI,  Petrarcha  Redivivus,  pag.  30. 


206  A  PARALLEL  BETWEEN 

in  my  manhood  1  despised  myself;  now  I  de 
spise  both  the  world  and  myself*."  Had  they 
lived  in  habits  of  intercourse,  Dante  would 
have  possessed  over  his  competitor  that  supe 
riority,  which  all  men,  who  act  from  predeter 
mined  and  unalterable  resolutions,  have  over 
those  who  yield  to  variable  and  momentary 
impulses.  —  Petrarch  might  have  said,  with 
Dante — 

Conscienza  m'assicura 

La  buona  compagnia,  che  1'  uom  francheggia 
Sotto  1'usbergo  del  sentirsi  pura. 

Conscience  makes  me  firm, 

The  boon  companion  who  her  strong  breast-plate 
Buckles  on  him  who  feels  no  guilt  within, 
And  bids  him  on  and  fear  not.  GARY'S  Transl. 

But  his  ardent  aspirations  after  moral  perfec 
tion,  and  the  despair  of  attaining  it,  made 
Petrarch  look  forward  "  with  trembling  hope" 
to  the  day  that  should  summon  him  to  the 
presence  of  an  inexorable  Judge.  Dante  be 
lieved,  that  by  his  sufferings  on  earth  he  atoned 
for  the  errors  of  humanity — that 

So  wide  arms 

«         Hath  goodness  infinite,  that  it  receives 
All  who  turn  to  it. 

*  Senil.  Lib.  18.  Ep.  7. 


DANTE  AND  PETRARCH.  207 

Ma  la  bonta  divina  ha  si  gran  braccia 
Che  prende  cio  che  si  rivolge  a  lei — 

and  he  seems  to  address  Heaven  in  the  atti 
tude  of  a  worshipper  rather  than  a  suppliant. 
Being  convinced  "  that  Man  is  then  truly 
happy  when  he  freely  exercises  all  his  ener 
gies*,"  Dante  walked  through  the  world  with 
an  assured  step  "  keeping  his  vigils  "- 

So  that,  nor  night  nor  slumber  with  close  stealth 

Convey'd  from  him  a  single  step  in  all 

The  goings  on  of  time.  GARY'S  Transl. 

He  collected  the  opinions,  the  follies,  the  vicis 
situdes,  the  miseries  and  the  passions  that 
agitate  mankind,  and  left  behind  him  a  monu 
ment,  which  while  it  humbles  us  by  the  repre 
sentation  of  our  own  wretchedness,  should  make 
us  glory  that  we  partake  of  the  same  nature 
with  such  a  man ;  and  encourage  us  to  make 
the  best  use  of  our  fleeting  existence.  Petrarch 
was  led  by  a  wisdom  rather  contemplative  than 
active,  to  think  that  our  toils  and  exertions  in 
behalf  of  mankind  far  exceed  any  benefit  they 
derive  from  them;  that  each  step  after  all 
but  brings  us  nearer  to  the  grave ;  that  death 
is  the  best  boon  of  Providence,  and  the  world 

*  IIunianti?n  genus,   pofis.sime  libennn,   nptimc    ,te    habet. — 
DANTE,  de  Monarchia. 


208  A  PARALLEL. 

to  come  our  only  secure  dwelling-place.  He 
therefore  faltered  on  through  life  with  the 
conviction,  "  that  a  weariness  and  disgust  of 
every  thing  were  naturally  inherent  in  his 
soul*" — and  thus  he  paid  the  price  of  those 
favours,  which  nature,  fortune,  and  the  world, 
had  heaped  upon  him,  without  the  alloy  even 
of  ordinary  reverses. 

*  Cum  omnium  rerum  fastidium  atque  odium  naturaliter  in 
animo  meo  insitum  ferre  non  possim. — Epist.  ad  Post. 


APPENDIX  I. 

REFERRING    TO    THE    ESSAY 
ON  THE  LOVE  OF  PETRARCH,   SECT.  XI. 

AND  THE  ESSAY 
ON  HIS  POETRY,  SECT.  XV. 


SPECIMENS 

OF  THE  LATIN  POETRY 
OF  PETRARCH. 


PETRARCH'S 

DESCRIPTIONS    OF   VAUCLUSE. 


Si  nihil,  aut  gelidi  facies  nitidissima  fontis, 
Aut  nemorum  convexa  cavis  arcana  latebris 
(At  placidis  bene  nota  feris  Dryadumque  catervis, 
Et  Faunis  accepta  domus)  nihil  ista,  poetis 
Opportuna  sacris,  sub  apricis  rupibus  antra 
Permulcent  animum  ;  at  clementissimus  aer 
Allicit,  ac  mentis  praeruptus  in  acthera  vertex 
Liberiore  situ  liquidas  extentus  ad  auras, 
Collibus  aut  Bromius  frondens,  aut  sylva  Minerva; 
Gratior  aut  Veneri  ;  et  utramque  tegentia  ripam 
Herculeis  umbrosa  comis  ;  distinctaque  subtcr 
Floribus  innumeris,  et  dulce  virentibus  herbis, 
Prata  trahunt  oculos,  aut  hie  qui  separat  arva, 
Atque  soporifero  clausam  qui  murmure  vallem 
Implet  inexhausto  descendens  alveus  amne: 
Et  videt  liinc  illinc  Nympharum  mille  choreas, 
Musarumque  audit  totidem  per  littora  cantus. 

Tom.  III.  pag.  80.   Lib.  I.  Epist.  4. 

POPULUS  est  ingens,  niveo  contermina  fonti, 
Quae  simul  et  fluvium,  et  ripas,  et  proxima  campi 
.lugera  ramorum  densa  testudine  opacat. 
Hie  olim  multaque  loci  dulcedine  captum, 
Et  rerum  novitate  oculos,  animumque  movente 
p  2 


212  PETRARCH'S 

Aggere  florigero  magnum  posuisse  Robcrtum 
Membra  diu  lassata  ferunt;  curisque  gravatum 
Pectus  et  exigui  laudassc  silentia  ruris. 

Pag.  80.  Lib.  I.  Epist.  4. 

Hie  mecum  exilio  reduces,  statione  reposta, 
Pierides  habitant ;  rarus  superadvenit  hospes, 
Nee  nisi  rara  nocent  noti  miracula  fontis. 
Vix  mora  nostra  quidom,  licet  annua,  bisve  semelve 
Congregat  optatos  Clausa  sub  Valle  sodales. 

Pag.  83.  Lib.  I.  Epist.  7. 

TURBIDA  nos  urbis  species,  et  dulcis  amoeni 
Ruris  amor  tulerat  nitidos  invisere  fontes, 
Mirandumque  caput  Sorgse,  quod  vatibus  ingens 
Calcar  et  ingenio  generosas  admovet  alas. 
Hie  ubi  te  mecum  convulsa  revolvere  saxa 
Non  puduit,  campumque  satis  laxare  malignum  : 
Vernantem  variis  videas  nunc  floribus  ortum 
Natura  cedente  open',  pars  amne  profundo 
Cingitur,  ad  par  tern  praeruptis  rupibus  ambit 
Mons  gelidus,  calidumque  jugis  obversus  ad  Austrum. 
Hinc  medio  ruit  umbra  die,  pars  nuda  tepenti 
Porta  fovet  Zephyro :  sed  et  hinc  procul  arcet  agrestis 
Murus,  ab  accessu  prohibens  pecudesque  virosque. 
Aerias  sed  enim  ramis  viridantibus  alte 
Littoreas  volucres  scopulis  intexere  nidos : 
Has  musco  velare  domos ;  sed  frondibus  illas, 
ProgeniemqMe  inopem  fidis  trepidare  sub  alis, 
Aspicias,  atque  ore  cibos  capfcare  trementi. 
Concava  turn  querulis  complentur  vocibus  antra, 
Et  color  hinc  oculos,  illinc  sonus  advocat  aures 
Certatim :  dulci  spectacula  plena  tumultu 
Suspendunt,  gratove  quies  condita  labore. 
Hie  units  cum  pace  dies  exactus  Aventi 


LATIN  POETRY.  -J13 

Vix  totus,  tot  me  Inqueis,  tot  curia  curis 
Tmplicat,  id  meritum  quin  vincula  nota  libcnter, 
Infelix,  tritaque  jugum  cervice  recepi. 
Nunc  tainen  illius  juvat  hie  meminissc  dici. 
Dulce  fuit,  vcterumque  sacros  memorare  labores, 
Nostrorum  immemores,  hie  cocnam  in  tempora  noctis 
Traximus,  alterno  pariter  sermone  relicti. 
Singula  dum  repeto,  lux  ilia  brevissima  furtim 
Lubitur,  et  Clausa  vix  serum  Valle  revolver, 
Faucibus  egressus,  quum  jam  sylvestria  Tempe, 
Umbrososque  sinus  spectans  post  terga  viderem, 
Lucidus  ac  mecum  ad  laevam  descenderet  amnis. 

Bre\  is  angulus  haeret 

Rupibus  ;  ille  quidem  Nympharum  ab  origine  sedes, 

Nunc  mea:  Pieridumque  domus  satis  ampla,  quod  hospes 

Adveniet  rarus,  sordent  quia  carmina  vulgo, 

Vitaque  nostra  fruor  sub  judice  facta  furenti. 

Hanc  modo  vallamus,  quam  nulla  revellit  aqua?  vis, 

Ni  montem  oppositum  a  radicibus  eruat  imis. 

Si  tibi  cura  animum  dederit,  si  curia  tempus 

Omnia  mutato  nostrum  decus  ordine  rerum, 

Me  Nymphis,  Nymphasque  mihi  cessisse  vicissim, 

Et  cecidissc  minas,  compressaque  bella  videbis. 

Retia  nunc  sunt  arma  mihi,  et  labyrinthius  error 

Viminea  contextus  acu ;  qui  pervius  undis 

Piscibus  est  career,  nulla  remeabilis  arte: 

Pro  gladiis  curvos  hamos,  fallacibus  eseis 

Implicitos,  tremulasque  sudes,  parvumque  tridentem 

Piscator  modo  factus  ego,  quo  terga  natantum 

Sistere  jam  didici,  duroque  affigere  saxo. 

Primitias  en  Humineac  transmittimus  artis 

Et  versus  quot  Clausa  domos  habet  arctaque  Vail  is, 

QU;E  tibi  pisciculos  et  rustica  carmina  pascit. 

Pag.  104,  105.  Lib.  III.    Epist.  3. 


214  I'KTRARCH'S 


FROM  THE  AFRICA.— BOOK  VI. 
THE  DEATH  OF  MAGO. 

Hie  postquam  medio  iuvenis  stetit  aequore  Poenus 

Vulneris  increscens  dolor,  et  vicinia  dura; 

Mortis,  agens  stimulis  ardentibus,  urget  anhelum. 

Ille  videns  propius  supremi  temporis  horam 

Incipit:  Heu  qualis  fortunae  terminus  altae  est! 

Quain  laetis  mens  caeca  bonis !   Furor  ecce  potentum 

Praecipiti  gaudere  loco  ;   status  ille  procellis 

Subiacet  innumeris,  et  finis  ad  alta  levatis 

Est  ruere.     Heu  tremulum  magnorum  culmen  honoruni 

Spesque  hominum  fallax,  et  inanis  gloria  fictis 

lllita  blanditiis!  heu,  vita  incerta,  labori 

Dedita  perpetuo!  semperque,  heu,  certa,  nee  unquam 

Sat  mortis  praevisa  dies  !  heu  sortis  iniquae 

Natus  homo  in  terris!  Animalia  cuncta  quiescunt; 

Irrequietus  homo,  perque  omnes  auxins  annos, 

Ad  mortem  festinat  iter :  Mors,  optima  rerum: 


LATIN  POETRY.  0)5 


FROM  THE  AFRICA.— BOOK  VI. 


THE  DEATH  OF  MAGO. 


THE  Carthaginian  rose — and  when  he  found 
The  increasing  anguish  of  his  mortal  wound 
All  hope  forhid — with  difficult,  slow  breath 
He  thus  address'd  the  coming  hour  of  death — 

"  Farewell  to  all  my  longings  after  fame! 
Cursed  love  of  power,  are  such  thine  end  and  aim 
Oh,  blind  to  all  that  might  have  made  thy  bliss, 
And  must  ambition's  frenzy  come  to  this? 
From  height  to  height  aspiring  still  to  rise, 
Man  stands  rejoicing  on  the  precipice, 
Nor  sees  the  innumerable  storms  that  wait 
To  level  all  the  projects  of  the  great. 
Oh,  trembling  pinnacle  of  power  on  earth! 
Deceitful  hopes !  and  glory  blazon'd  forth 
With  false,  fictitious  blandishments!  Oh,  life 
Of  doubt  and  danger,  and  perpetual  strife 
With  death!     And,  t  ho  til  worse  than  this  night  of  woe 
That  comest  to  all,  but  ah !  when  none  can  know, 
Hour  singled  from  all  years !  why  must  man  bear 
A  lot  so  sad?   The  tribes  of  earth  and  air 
No  thoughts  of  future  ill  in  life  molest, 
And  when  they  die,  sleep  on,  and  take  their  rest ; 


216  PETRARCH'S 

Tu  retegis  sola  errores,  et  crimina  viue 
Discutis  exactae.    Video  nunc  quanta  paravi 
Ah!  miser  incassum,  subii  quot  sponte  labores, 
Quos  licuit  transire  mihi.     Moriturus,  ad  astra 
Scandere  qua?rit  homo;  sed  Mors  docet,  omnia  quo  sint 
Nostra  loco.     Latio  quid  profuit  arma  potenti, 
Quid  tectis  inferre  faces  ?  quid  foul  era  mundi 
Turbare,  atque  urbes  tristi  miscere  tumultu  ? 
Aurea  marmoreis  quidve  alta  palatia  muris 
Erexisse  juvat,  postquam  sic  sidere  laovo 
In  pelago  periturus  eram  ?  Carissime  frater, 
Quanta  paras  animis,  heu,  fali  ignarus  acerbi 
Ignarusque  mei  ?  Dixit ;   turn  liber  in  auras 
Spiritus  egreditur,  spatiis  unde  altior  aequis 
Despiceret  Romam,  simul  et  Carthaginis  urbcm. 
Ante  diem  felix  abiens,  ne  summa  videret 
Excidia,  et  claris  quod  restat  dedecus  armis, 
Fraternosque,  suosque  simul,  patriajque  dolores. 


LATIN  POETRY.  217 

But  man  in  restless  dreams  spends  all  his  years, 

And  shortens  life  with  death's  encroaching  fears. 

Oh,  thou,  whose  cold  hand  tears  the  veil  from  error, 

Whose  hollow  eye  is  our  delusion's  mirror! 

Death,  life's  chief  blessing!   At  this  hour  of  fate, 

Wretch  that  I  am!  I  see  my  faults  too  late. 

Perils  ill-sought,  and  crimes  ill  worth  the  price, 

Pass  on  in  dire  review  before  my  eyes ; 

Yet,  thing  of  dust,  and  on  the  verge  of  night, 

Man  dares  to  climb  the  stars,  and  on  the  height 

Of  heaven  his  owlet  vision  dares  to  bend 

From  that  low  earth,  where  all  his  hopes  descend. 

What  then  avails  me  in  this  trying  hour, 

Or  thee,  my  Italy,  this  arm  of  power? 

Why  did  I  bid  the  torch  of  ravage  flame? 

Ah!  why  as  with  a  trumpet's  tongue  proclaim 

The  rights  of  man?  confounding  wrong  and  right, 

And  plunging  nations  in  a  deeper  night? 

Why  did  I  raise  of  marble  to  the  skies 

A  gorgeous  palace?  Vain  and  empty  prize! 

When  with  it  lost  my  air-built  dreams  must  lie 

Gulph'd  in  the  Ocean  of  eternity. 

My  dearest  brother,  ah !  remember  me, 

And  let  my  fate  avert  the  like  from  thee." 

He  said,  and  now,  its  mortal  bondage  riven, 
His  spirit  fled,  and  from  its  higher  heaven 
Of  space  look'd  down  where  Rome  and  Cartilage  lay, 
Thrice  blest  in  having  died  before  the  day 
Whose  wing  of  havoc  swept  his  race  away, 
And  had  not  saved  by  valour  vainly  shewn 
His  country's  woes,  his  brother's,  and  his  own. 

LORD  BYRON. 


APPENDIX  II. 

REFERRING  TO  THE  ESSAY 

ON  THE  POETRY  OF  PETRARCH, 

SECT.  IX. 


SPECIMENS 
OF  GREEK  LOVE-POETRY 

FROM  SAPPHO 

DOWN    TO   THE    WRITERS 
OF  THE  LOWER  EMPIRE. 


SAPPHO. 


"  They  who  regard  the  Fragments  of  Sappho,  as 
mere  Love-songs,  degrade  her  genius.  Her  '  strain' 
was  of  a  higher  mood.  Simple,  vehement,  rich  in 
images,  sparing  in  words,  her  poetry  is  the  poetry  of 
impulse.  In  all  succeeding  poets  who  have  written 
on  Love,  we  can  trace  the  wit  of  sentiment,  and  the 
finished  delicacy  of  art:  in  Sappho  we  have  a  total 
unconsciousness  of  effort;  but  such  is  the  enthusiasm 
of  her  sensations,  that  she  has  infused  sublimity  into 
the  softness  of  sexual  passion.  Longinus  has  instanced 
her  bold  selection  and  association  of  circumstances  in 
the  emotions  of  violent  love  as  forming  the  true  sub 
lime.  He  does  not,  however,  specify  any  peculiarity 
in  the  passion  described  by  Sappho,  as  distinguishing 
it  from  a  common  passion  ;  and  yet  I  am  satisfied, 
that  these  strong  emotions  have  a  deeper  source. 
Persons  who  have  been  struck  with  the  disproportion 
of  the  effects  to  the  cause,  have  conceived  jealousy  to 
be  intended  ;  but  this  seems  to  me  quite  an  error,  into 
which  they  have  been  led  by  the  mention  of  the  man 


2'22  GREEK  AMATORY 

who  is  supposed  to  sit  by  the  girl ;  for  it  is  suppo 
sition  only  :  it  is  a  mere  figure,  and  has  not  the  least 
appearance  of  being  pointed  at  any  particular  lover. 
It  is  not  the  sight  of  the  man,  but  the  smile  of  the  girl 
that  is  said  to  produce  this  fluttering  of  the  heart:  nor 
is  this  fainting  of  the  spirits  likely  to  be  occasioned  by 
jealousy,  which  rather  engenders  a  sullen,  or  malignant 
temper  of  mind,  and  an  angry  contortion  of  the  coun 
tenance.  Longinus  does  not  quote  the  ode  as  a  just 
description  of  jealous  uneasiness,  but  of  '  amorous 
furor:'  and  his  expressions  are  '  All  things  of  this  kind 
happen  to  those  who  are  in  love ;  but  the  seizure  of 
the  chief  particulars,  and  the  embodying  of  them  in 
one  whole,  has  effected  the  sublime.'  I  have  no  doubt 
that  the  passion  of  which  Sappho  describes  the  parox 
ysm,  is  a  passion  indulged  by  stealth,  and  concealed 
through  a  sense  of  guilt  or  apprehension.  The  first 
line  of  the  succeeding  stanza,  which  is  lost,  seems  to 
hint  at  a  disclosure  :  '  Yet  must  I  venture  all :'  and  I 
am  confirmed  in  my  inference  by  the  traditionary  story 
of  the  physician  who  discovered  the  love  of  Antio- 
chus  for  his  mother-in-law  Stratonice  by  comparing 
the  effects  which  her  presence  produced  on  his  patient, 
with  the  symptoms  enumerated  by  Sappho." — ELTON. 


POETRY.  223 


SAPPHO. 

PHILLIPS'S    TRANSLATION. 

BLEST  as  the  immortal  God  is  he, 
The  youth  who  fondly  sits  by  thee, 
And  hears  and  sees  thee,  all  the  while, 
Softly  speak,  and  sweetly  smile. 

'Twas  this  deprived  my  soul  of  rest, 
And  raised  such  tumults  in  my  breast ; 
For,  while  I  gazed,  in  transport  tost, 
My  breath  was  gone,  my  voice  was  lost; 

My  bosom  glow'd ;   the  subtle  flame 
Ran  quick  through  all  my  vital  frame; 
O'er  my  dim  eyes  a  darkness  hung ; 
My  ears  with  hollow  murmurs  rung. 

In  dewy  damps  my  limbs  were  chill'd; 
My  blood  with  gentle  horrors  thrill'd ; 
My  feeble  pulse  forgot  to  play; 
I  fainted,  sunk,  and  died  away. 

THE    LATTER    PART    ATTEMPTED    MORE    LITERALLY. 

My  trembling  tongue  hath  lost  its  power; 
Slow,  subtle  fires  my  frame  devour  ; 
My  sight  is  fled ;  around  me  swim 
Low  dizzy  murmurs :  every  limb 
Cold  creeping  dews  o'erspread.     I  feel 
A  shivering  tremor  o'er  me  steal : 
Paler  than  grass  I  grow ;   my  breath 
Pants  in  short  gasps ;   I  seem  like  death. 

M. 


224  GREEK  AMATORY 

ELTON'S  TRANSLATION. 

THAT  man  is  like  a  god  to  me, 
Who,  sitting  face  to  face  with  thee, 
Shall  hear  thee  sweetly  speak,  and  see 

Thy  laughter's  gentle  blandishing. 
'Tis  this  astounds  my  trembling  heart; 
I  see  thee,  lovely  as  thou  art : 
My  fluttering  words  in  murmurs  start, 

My  broken  tongue  is  faltering. 
My  flushing  skin  the  fire  betrays 
That  through  my  blood  electric  strays : 
My  eyes  seem  darkening  as  I  gaze, 

My  ringing  ears  re-echoing. 
Cold  from  my  forehead  glides  the  dew : 
A  shuddering  tremor  thrills  me  through ; 
My  cheek  a  green  and  yellow  hue; 

All  gasping,  dying,  languishing. 

BOILEAU'S    TRANSLATION,   AS    ALTERED    BY    DELILLE,  WITH    THE 
VIEW    OF    ADAPTING    IT    TO    THE    GREEK    METRE. 

HEUREUX  celui  qui  pres  de  toi  soupire, 
Qui  sur  lui  seul  attire  ces  beaux  yeux, 
Ces  doux  accens  et  ce  tendre  sourire ! 
II  est  egal  aux  Dieux. 

De  veine  en  veine  une  subtile  flamme 
Court  dans  mon  sein  sitot  que  je  te  vois 
Et  dans  le  trouble  ou  s'egare  mon  ame 
Je  demeure  sans  voix. 

Je  n'entends  plus,  un  voile  est  sur  ma  vue ; 
Je  reve  et  tombe  en  des  donees  langucurs 
Et  sans  halcine,  interdite,  eperdue, 
Je  tremble,  je  me  meurs. 


POETRY.  225 

THIS  metre  gives  no  idea  of  that  invented  by  Sap 
pho.  The  French  translation,  moreover,  has  the  defect 
common  to  all  other  versions,  not  even  excepting 
that  of  Catullus,  of  not  sufficiently  marking  the  con 
trasts  and  gradations  of  the  passion. — The  first  stanza 
depicts  the  ecstacy  of  a  person,  who  without  being 
lost  in  the  delirium  of  love,  gazes  delighted  on  the 
charms  of  a  beautiful  person.  While  Sappho  is  com 
paring  the  softer  raptures  of  another  with  the  vehe 
mence  of  her  own  passion,  she  breaks  away  abruptly, 
and  in  the  second  stanza  displays  the  tumult  and 
sudden  transports  that  seize  upon  the  senses  at  the 
sight  of  the  beloved  object.  In  the  third  stanza, 
there  is  less  of  tumult,  but  a  more  glowing  ardour  and 
perturbation  that  pervades  the  whole  frame.  In  the 
fourth,  the  tumult — the  ardour — the  perturbation,  dis 
appear  in  a  languor  that  approaches  the  icy  chills  of 
dissolution — and  from  the  conclusion  of  Catullus's 
imitation,  I  can  have  no  doubt,  that  in  the  remainder 
of  the  ode,  which  is  lost,  Sappho  finished  like  Phaedra 
in  Euripides,  by  profound  reflections  upon  the  misery 
of  desperate  love.  It  appears  to  me  that  Phillips  has 
more  of  Metastasio  than  of  Sappho:  the  elegance  of 
expression,  the  smooth  flow  of  sentiment,  and  the 
melody  of  the  versification  give  an  air  of  lifeless  mo 
notony  in  which  the  fire,  the  impetuosity,  and  the  spi 
rited  strokes  of  the  poetess  are  nearly  lost.  Besides, 
by  the  use  of  the  past  tense  he  has  degraded  into 
cold  narration  what  Sappho,  with  the  true  enthusiasm 
of  lyric  poetry,  sets  before  us  in  all  the  energy  and 
vivacity  of  the  present.  Of  the  thousand  Italian  trans- 


226  GREEK  AMATORY 

lations  of  this  fragment,  I  am  acquainted  with  one 
only  which  has  hit  upon  the  contrasts  and  gradations 
of  the  original,  and  in  which  the  Sapphic  measure  has 
been  strictly  observed  throughout — 

QUEI  parmi  in  Cielo  fra  gli  Dei,  se  accanto 
Ti  siede  e  vede  il  tuo  bel  riso,  e  sente 
I  dolci  detti  e  1' amoroso  canto! — 
A  me  repente. 

Con  piu  tumulto  il  core  urta  nel  petto ; 
More  la  voce,  mentre  ch'  io  ti  miro, 
Su  la  mia  lingua :  nelle  fauci  stretto 
Geme  il  sospiro. 

Serpe  la  fiamma  entro  il  mio  sangue,  ed  ardo  : 
Un  indistinto  tintinnio  m'  ingombra 
Gli  orecchi,  e  sogno;  mi  s'innalza  al  guardo 
Torbida  1'ombra. 

E  tutta  molle  d'un  sudor  di  gelo, 
E  smorta  in  viso  come  erba  die  langue, 
Tremo  e  fremo  di  brividi,  ed  anelo 
Tacita,  esangue. 


OF  all  Ovid's  poems  the  Epistle  from  Sappho  to 
Phaon  is  the  most  impassioned  and  the  most  poetical. 
I  add  some  fragments  of  it  as  translated  by  Pope, 
because  I  think  it  very  probable,  that  like  all  his 
countrymen,  Ovid  scrupled  not  to  borrow  more  largely 
from  the  works  of  this  poetess,  than  even  Pope  has 
done  from  the  Latin  letters  of  Heloise.  It  is  plain 


POKTKY. 


227 


that  Ovid  goes  too  much  into  refinement  and  detail. 
Pope  frequently  descends  still  more  into  detail,  and 
here  and  thefe  adds  a  colouring  of  metaphysics,  which, 
by  generalizing  too  much,  produces  the  contrary  effect. 
Nevertheless  they  were  really  poets,  endowed  with 
vivid  feelings,  and  knew  how  to  preserve  in  the  midst 
of  foreign  ornament,  that  passion  which  constitutes 
the  native  charm  of  Sappho's  poetry — 

I  BURN,  I  burn,  as  when  through  ripen'd  corn 
By  driving  winds  the  spreading  flames  are  borne ! 
Phaon  to  ./Etna's  scorching  fields  retires, 
While  I  consume  with  more  than  ./Etna's  fires! 
No  more  my  soul  a  charm  in  music  finds; 
Music  has  charms  alone  for  peaceful  minds. 
Soft  scenes  of  solitude  no  more  can  please, 
Love  enters  there,  and  I'm  my  own  disease. 

The  muses  teach  me  all  their  softest  lays, 
And  the  wide  world  resounds  with  Sappho's  praise. 
Though  great  Alcaeus  more  sublimely  sings, 
And  strikes  with  bolder  rage  the  sounding  strings, 
No  less  renown  attends  the  moving  lyre, 
Which  Venus  tunes,  and  all  her  loves  inspire; 
To  me  what  nature  has  in  charms  denied, 
Is  well  by  wit's  more  lasting  flames  supplied. 

If  to  no  charms  thou  wilt  thy  heart  resign, 
But  such  as  merit,  such  as  equal  thine, 
By  none,  alas !   by  none  thou  canst  be  moved, 
Phaon  alone  by  Phaou  must  be  loved ! 
Yet  once  thy  Sappho  could  thy  cares  employ, 
Once  in  her  arms  you  center'd  all  your  joy  : 
Q  2 


228  GREEK  AMATORY 

No  time  the  dear  remembrance  can  remove, 
For  oh  !  how  vast  a  memory  has  love! 
My  music,  then,  you  could  for  ever  hear, 
And  all  my  words  were  music  to  your  ear. 
You  stopp'd  with  kisses  my  enchanting  tongue, 
And  found  my  kisses  sweeter  than  my  song. 

And  you  that  rule  Sicilia's  happy  plains, 
Have  pity,  Venus,  on  your  poet's  pains! 
Shall  fortune  still  in  one  sad  tenor  run, 
And  still  increase  the  woes  so  soon  begun? 
Inured  to  sorrow  from  my  tender  years, 
My  parent's  ashes  drank  my  early  tears : 
My  brother  next,  neglecting  wealth  and  fame, 
Ignobly  burn'd  in  a  destructive  flame : 
An  infant  daughter  late  my  griefs  increased, 
And  all  a  mother's  cares  distract  my  breast. 
Alas!   what  more  could  fate  itself  impose, 
But  thee,  the  last  and  greatest  of  my  woes? 
No  more  my  robes  in  waving  purple  flow, 
Nor  on  my  hand  the  sparkling  diamonds  glow ; 
No  more  my  locks  in  ringlets  curl'd  diffuse 
The  costly  sweetness  of  Arabian  dews, 
Nor  braids  of  gold  the  varied  tresses  bind, 
That  fly  disorder'd  with  the  wanton  wind : 
For  whom  should  Sappho  use  such  arts  as  these? 
He  's  gone,  whom  only  she  desired  to  please ! 

Sure  't  was  not  much  to  bid  one  kind  adieu, 
(At  least  to  feign  was  never  hard  to  you,) 
Farewell,  my  Lesbian  love,  you  might  have  said ; 
Or  coldly  thus,  Farewell,  O  Lesbian  maid ! 
No  tear  did  you,  no  parting  kiss  receive, 
Nor  knew  I  then  how  much  I  was  to  grieve. 


POETRY.  229 

No  lover's  gift  your  Sappho  could  confer, 

And  wrongs  and  woes  were  all  you  left  with  her. 

When  first  I  heard  (from  whom  I  hardly  knew), 
That  you  were  fled,  and  all  my  joys  with  you, 
Like  some  sad  statue,  speechless,  pale  I  stood, 
Grief  chill'd  my  breast,  and  stopp'd  my  freezing  blood ; 
No  sigh  to  rise,  no  tear  had  power  to  flow, 
Fix'd  in  a  stupid  lethargy  of  woe  : 
But  when  its  way  th' impetuous  passion  found, 
I  rend  my  tresses,  and  my  breast  I  wound ; 
I  rave,  then  weep :   I  curse,  and  then  complain ; 
Now  swell  to  rage,  now  melt  in  tears  again. 

Stung  with  my  love,  and  furious  with  despair, 
All  torn  my  garments,  and  my  bosom  bare, 
My  woes,  thy  crimes,  I  to  the  world  proclaim ; 
Such  inconsistent  things  are  love  and  shame! 
Tis  thou  art  all  my  care  and  my  delight, 
My  daily  longing,  and  my  dream  by  night : 
Oh  night  more  pleasing  than  the  brightest  day, 
When  fancy  gives  what  absence  takes  away, 
And,  dress'd  in  all  its  visionary  charms, 
Restores  my  fair  deserter  to  my  arms! 
Then  round  your  neck  in  wanton  wreath  I  twine, 
Then  you,  methinks,  as  fondly  circle  mine: 
A  thousand  tender  words  I  hear  and  speak ; 
A  thousand  melting  kisses,  give  and  take : 
Then  fiercer  joys,  I  blush  to  mention  these, 
Yet,  while  I  blush,  confess  how  much  they  please. 
But  when,  with  day,  the  sweet  delusions  fly, 
And  all  things  wake  to  life  and  joy,  but  I, 
As  if  once  more  forsaken,  I  complain, 
And  close  my  eyes  to  dream  of  you  again; 


230  GREEK  AMATORY 

Then  frantic  rise,  and  like  some  fury  rove 

Through  lonely  plains,  and  through  the  silent  grove. 

As  if  the  silent  grove,  and  lonely  plains, 

That  knew  my  pleasures,  could  relieve  my  pains. 

In  view  the  grotto,  once  the  scene  of  love, 

The  rocks  around,  the  hanging  roofs  above. 


FRAGMENT    OF    SAPPHO. 

PARAPHRASED    BY    MOORE. 

HITHER,  Venus!  queen  of  kisses, 
This  shall  be  the  night  of  blisses! 
This  the  night  to  friendship  dear, 
Thou  shalt  be  our  Hebe  here. 

Fill  the  golden  brimmer  high, 
Let  it  sparkle  like  thine  eye ! 
Bid  the  rosy  current  gush, 
Let  it  mantle  like  thy  blush! 

Venus  !  hast  thou  e'er  above 
Seen  a  feast  so  rich  in  love  ? 
Not  a  soul  that  is  not  mine! 
Not  a  soul  that  is  not  thine! 


1'OKTKY. 


ANACREON. 


I  WILL  also  subjoin  different  translations  of  an  ode 
of  Anacreon,  because  I  consider  it  one  of  the  few 
genuine  relics  of  this  poet,  and  a  chef-d'oeuvre  in  the 
art  of  contrast.  These  verses  would  suggest  to  any 
painter  the  picture  of  an  old  man  seated  upon  the  turf, 
amidst  myrtles  and  roses,  rising  under  the  weight  of 
years  by  his  buoyant  gaiety,  forgetting  past  sorrows, 
and  dreaming  of  pleasures  to  come.  The  contrasts  in 
this  single  personage  are  further  heightened  by  the 
figure  of  Love,  who  with  the  levity  and  curiosity  of 
youth  hastens  forward  to  pour  out  wine  for  the  old 
man,  and  listen  to  his  song.  But  to  pourtray  the  still 
greater  contrast  which  is  produced  by  the  solemnity  of 
the  old  man's  song  is  beyond  the  painter's  art.  For, 
instead  of  the  praises  of  pleasure,  his  theme  is  the 
shortness  of  life,  and  the  long  and  inevitable  sleep 
of  death,  whence  he  deduces  the  conclusive  argu 
ment  that  we  must  hasten  to  enjoy  the  present  hour. — 
It  appears  to  me  that  translators  have  not  sufficiently 
availed  themselves  of  these  sudden  transitions.  The 
ancients  were  rather  intemperate  in  their  use  of  them  ; 
the  moderns  are  too  cautious  in  avoiding  them — 


232  GREEK  AMATORY 


COWLEY  S    TRANSLATION. 

UNDERNEATH  the  myrtle  shade, 
On  flowery  beds  supinely  laid, 
Odorous  oils  my  head  o'erflowing, 
And  around  it  roses  growing; 
What  shall  I  do,  but  drink  away 
The  heat  and  troubles  of  the  day? 
In  this  more  than  kingly  state, 
Love  himself  shall  on  me  wait. 
Fill  to  me,  Love!    Nay,  fill  it  up? 
And  mingled  cast  into  the  cup 
Wit  and  mirth,  and  noble  fires, 
Vigorous  health  and  gay  desires. 
The  wheel  of  life  no  less  doth  stay 
On  a  smooth  than  rugged  way: 
Since  it  equally  doth  flee, 
Let  the  motion  pleasant  be ! 


MOORE  S    TRANSLATION. 

STREW  me  a  breathing  bed  of  leaves, 
Where  Lotus  with  the  myrtle  weaves  ; 
And  while  in  luxury's  dream  I  sink, 
Let  me  the  balm  of  Bacchus  drink! 
In  this  delicious  hour  of  joy, 
Young  Love  shall  be  my  goblet-boy  ; 
Folding  his  little  golden  vest, 
With  cinctures,  round  his  snowy  breast, 
Himself  shall  hover  by  my  side, 
And  minister  the  racy  tide! 


POETRY.  233 

Swift  as  the  wheels  that  kindling  roll, 
Our  life  is  hurrying  to  the  goal: 
A  scanty  dust,  to  feed  the  wind, 
Is  all  the  trace  'twill  leave  behind. 
Why  do  we  shed  the  rose's  bloom 
Upon  the  cold,  insensate  tomb? 
Can  flowery  breeze,  or  odour's  breath, 
Affect  the  slumbering  chill  of  death? 
No,  no;  I  ask  no  balm  to  steep 
With  fragrant  tears  my  bed  of  sleep : 
But  now,  while  every  pulse  is  glowing, 
Now  let  me  breathe  the  balsam  flowing; 
Now  let  the  rose,  with  blush  of  fire, 
Upon  my  brow  its  scent  expire; 
And  bring  the  nymph  with  floating  eye, 
Oh !  she  will  teach  me  how  to  die : 
Yes,  Cupid !  ere  my  soul  retire 
To  join  the  blest  Elysian  choir, 
With  wine,  and  love,  and  blisses  dear, 
I  '11  make  my  own  Elysium  here! 


234  GREEK  AMATORY 


ELTON  S    TRANSLATION. 

ON  beds  of  tender  myrtle  leaves, 
Where  trefoil  grass  its  carpet  weaves, 
Tis  the  passion  of  my  soul 
To  quaff  the  health-provoking  bowl. 

Love,  his  mantle  thrown  behind, 
With  the  flag  of  Nile  confin'd, 
Shall  near  me  ministering  stand, 
The  heady  goblet  in  his  hand. 

As  the  chariot-wheel  rolls  on 
Life  runs,  and,  as  it  runs,  is  gone: 
Soon  to  dust  our  bodies  turn : 
Our  bones  are  crumbled  in  an  urn. 

What  avails  the  perfume  thrown 
On  cold  earth,  or  on  a  stone? 
While  I  live,  let  odours  flow: 
Thick  round  my  brows  let  roses  blow ; 

Call  the  mistress  of  my  heart : 
Love!  ere  yet  I  hence  depart, 
To  join  the  dance  of  ghosts  below, 
I  would  scatter  every  woe. 


POETRY.  235 


AN    ITALIAN    TRANSLATION. 

SOVRA  i  mirti  e  fra  le  rose, 
Sovra  molli  erbe  odorose, 
Adagiato  io  voglio  her. 

Doh  t'  annoda  al  collo  il  manto, 
Bell'Amore!  e  mentr' io  canto, 
Corri  a  farmi  da  coppicr. 

Ahi!  1'umana  vita  fugge 
Come  ruota  che  si  strugge 
Piu  che  gira,  e  sempre  va. 

Sonno  eterno  in  poca  fossa 
Su  la  polvere  e  fra  T  ossa 
II  mio  corpo  dormira. 

A  che  i  balsami  e  i  conforti 
Su  le  tombe?  A  che  su'morti 
Tanto  vino  e  tanti  fior? 

A  me  il  nappo,  e  la  corona 
Or  ch'  io  spiro,  or  che  risuona 
La  mia  lira  e  m'arde  il  cor. 

Vieni  e  meco  ti  trastulla; 
Qui  m'  invita  la  fanciulla 
Che  sa  ridere  e  trescar. 

Ah  Cupido!  e  meglio  innan/i 
Che  fra'  morti  ignudo  io  danzi, 
Dar  gli  affanni  ai  venti  e  al  mar. 


236  GREEK  AMATORY 


FROM  ANACREON. 

TELL  me  why,  my  sweetest  dove, 
Thus  your  humid  pinions  move, 
Shedding  through  the  air  in  showers 
Essence  of  the  balmiest  flowers? 
Tell  me  whither,  whence  you  rove ; 
Tell  me  all,  my  sweetest  dove. 

Curious  stranger!   I  belong 
To  the  Bard  of  Teian  song ; 
With  his  mandate  now  I  fly 
To  the  nymph  of  azure  eye ; 
Ah!  that  eye  has  madden'd  many, 
But  the  poet  more  than  any ! 

Venus,  for  a  hymn  of  love, 
Warbled  in  her  votive  grove, 
('Twas  in  sooth  a  gentle  lay) 
Gave  me  to  the  Bard  away. 
See  me  now  his  faithful  minion, 
Thus  with  softly-gliding  pinion, 

To  his  lovely  girl  I  bear 
Songs  of  passion  through  the  air. 
Oft  he  blandly  whispers  me, 
"  Soon,  my  bird,  I  '11  set  you  free." 
But  in  vain  he'll  bid  me  fly, 
I  shall  serve  him  till  I  die. 

Never  could  my  plumes  sustain 
Ruffling  winds  and  chilling  rain 
O'er  the  plains,  or  in  the  dell, 
On  the  mountain's  savage  swell ; 


POETRY.  237 

Seeking  in  the  desert  wood 
Gloomy  shelter,  rustic  food. 

Now  I  lead  a  life  of  ease 
Far  from  such  retreats  as  these ; 
From  Anacreon's  hands  I  eat 
Food  delicious,  viands  sweet ; 
Flutter  o'er  his  goblet's  brim, 
Sip  the  foamy  wine  with  him. 

Then  I  dance  and  wanton  round 
To  the  lyre's  beguiling  sound; 
Or  with  gently-fanning  wings 
Shade  the  minstrel  while  he  sings : 
On  his  harp  then  sink  in  slumbers, 
Dreaming  still  of  dulcet  numbers! 

This  is  all — away — away — 
You  have  made  me  waste  the  day. 
How  I've  chatter'd!  prating  crow 
Never  yet  did  chatter  so. 

MOORE. 


GREEK  AMATORY 


FROM  ANACREON. 

THOU,  whose  soft  and  rosy  hues 
Mimic  form  and  soul  infuse; 
Best  of  painters !  come,  pourtray 
The  lovely  maid  that 's  far  away. 

Far  away,  my  soul !  thou  art, 
But  I  've  thy  beauties  all  by  heart. 

Paint  her  jetty  ringlets  straying, 
Silky  twine  in  tendrils  playing; 
And,  if  painting  hath  the  skill 
To  make  the  balmy  spice  distil, 
Let  every  little  lock  exhale 
A  sigh  of  perfume  on  the  gale. 

Where  her  tresses'  curly  flow 
Darkles  o'er  her  brow  of  snow, 
Let  her  forehead  beam  to  light 
Burnished  as  the  ivory  bright. 

Let  her  eyebrows  sweetly  rise 
In  jetty  arches  o'er  her  eyes, 
Gently  in  a  crescent  gliding, 
Just  commingling,  just  dividing. 

But  hast  thou  any  sparkles  warm 
The  lightning  of  her  eyes  to  form  ? 

Let  them  effuse  the  azure  ray 
With  which  Minerva's  glances  play, 
And  give  them  all  that  liquid  fire 
That  Venus'  languid  eyes  respire. 

O'er  her  nose  and  cheek  be  shed 
Flushing  white  and  mellow  red  ; 


POETRY. 


239 


Gradual  tints,  as  when  there  glows 
In  snowy  milk  the  bashful  rose. 

Then  her  lip  so  rich  in  blisses' 
Sweet  petitioner  for  kisses! 
Pouting  nest  of  bland  persuasion 
Ripely  suing  love's  invasion. 

Then  beneath  the  velvet  chin, 
Whose  dimple  shades  a  love  within, 
Mould  her  neck  with  grace  descending, 
In  a  heaven  of  beauty  ending; 
While  airy  charms  above,  below 
Sport  and  flutter  on  its  snow. 

Now  let  a  floating  lucid  veil 
Shadow  her  limbs,  but  not  conceal; 
A  charm  may  peep.,  a  hue  may  beam 
And  leave  the  rest  to  fancy's  dream, 
Enough — 'tis  she!  'tis  all  I  seek; 
It  glows,  it  lives,  it  soon  will  speak! 

MOORE. 


240  GREEK  AMATORV 


FROM  ANACREON. 

'TwAS  noon  of  night,  when  round  the  pole 
The  sullen  bear  is  seen  to  roll ; 
And  mortals,  wearied  with  the  day, 
Are  slumbering  all  their  cares  away : 

An  infant,  at  that  dreary  hour, 
Came  weeping  to  my  silent  bower, 
And  waked  me  with  a  piteous  prayer, 
To  save  him  from  the  midnight  air! 

"  And  who  art  thou,"  I  waking  cry, 
"  That  bid'st  my  blissful  visions  fly  ?  " 
"  O  gentle  sire!"  the  infant  said, 
"  In  pity  take  me  to  thy  shed; 

Nor  fear  deceit :  a  lonely  child 
I  wander  o'er  the  gloomy  wild. 
Chill  drops  the  rain,  and  not  a  ray 
Illumes  the  drear  and  misty  way! " 

I  hear  the  baby's  tale  of  woe ; 
I  hear  the  bitter  night-winds  blow ; 
And  sighing  for  his  piteous  fate, 
I  trimm'd  the  lamp  and  op'd  the  gate. 

'Twas  Love!  the  little  wandering  sprite, 
His  pinion  sparkled  through  the  night! 
I  knew  him  by  his  bow  and  dart; 
I  knew  him  by  my  fluttering  heart! 

I  take  him  in,  and  fondly  raise 
The  dying  embers'  cheering  blaze ; 
Press  from  his  dark  and  clinging  hair 
The  crystals  of  the  freezing  air  ; 

And  in  my  hand  and  bosom  hold 
His  little  fingers  thrilling  cold. 


1'OKTKY. 


241 


And  now  the  embers'  genial  ray 
Had  warm'd  his  anxious  fears  away; 

"  I  pray  thee,"  said  the  wanton  child, 
(My  bosom  trembled  as  he  smil'd,) 
"  I  pray  thee  let  me  try  my  bow, 
For  through  the  rain  I  've  wander'd  so, 
That  much  I  fear  the  ceaseless  shower 
Has  injur'd  its  elastic  power." 

The  fatal  bow  the  victim  drew; 
Swift  from  the  string  the  arrow  flew ; 
Oh!  swift  it  flew  as  glancing  flame, 
And  to  my  very  soul  it  came! 
"  Fare  thee  well,"  I  heard  him  say, 
As  laughing  wild  he  wing'd  away; 

"  Fare  thee  well,  for  now  I  know 
The  rain  has  not  relax'd  my  bow; 
It  still  can  send  a  madd'ning  dart, 
As  thou  shall  own  with  all  thy  heart!" 

MOORE. 


242  GREEK  AMATORY 

FROM  ANTIPATER. 

ON    THE    TOMB    OF    ANACREON. 

AROUND  the  tomb,  oh  bard  divine ! 

Where  soft  thy  hallow'd  brow  reposes, 
Long  may  the  deathless  ivy  twine, 

And  summer  pour  her  waste  of  roses ! 

And  many  a  fount  shall  there  distil, 

And  many  a  rill  refresh  the  flowers ; 
But  wine  shall  gush  in  every  rill, 

And  every  fount  be  milky  showers. 

Thus  shade  of  him  whom  nature  taught 
To  tune  his  lyre  and  soul  to  pleasure, 

Who  gave  to  love  his  warmest  thought, 
Who  gave  to  love  his  fondest  measure ! 

Thus,  after  death,  if  spirits  feel, 

Thou  may'st  from  odours  round  thee  streaming, 
A  pulse  of  past  enjoyment  steal, 

And  live  again  in  blissful  dreaming. 

Long  may  the  nymph  around  thee  play, 

Eurypyle,  thy  soul's  desire! 
Basking  her  beauties  in  the  ray 

That  lights  thine  eyes'  dissolving  fire! 

Sing  of  her  smile's  bewitching  power, 

Her  every  grace  that  warms  and  blesses ; 

Sing  of  her  brow's  luxuriant  flower, 
The  beaming  glory  of  her  tresses. 

MOORE. 


poi"niY. 


FROM  PLATO. 

TWO    FRAGMENTS    OF    HIS    AMATORY    POETRY. 
I. 

WHY  dost  thou  gaze  upon  the  sky? 

Oil !  that  I  were  that  spangled  sphere, 
And  every  star  should  he  an  eye, 

To  wonder  on  thy  beauties  here! 

II. 

In  life  thou  wert  my  morning  star, 

But  now  that  death  has  stol'n  thy  light, 

Alas!   thou  shinest  dim  and  far 

Like  the  pale  beam  that  weeps  at  night. 

MOORE. 


244  GREEK  AMATORY 


FROM  EURIPIDES. 

THE     DIRGE     OF     A     LOVER. 

FAREWELL  to  revel  and  the  festive  throng, 
To  wanton  garlands,  dance,  and  social  song! 
Henceforth  to  me,  sweet  instruments,  be  mute! 
The  harp's  wild  raptures,  and  the  Lydian  flute, 
All  that  was  pleasure  once,  my  thoughts  resign, 
For  all  my  joys  are  buried  in  thy  shrine. 

I  '11  have  thee  moulded  as  in  life,  and  bear 
To  my  lone  couch  thy  image  sadly  dear; 
Fall  on  the  semblance,  clasp  it  in  my  arms, 
Name  it  from  thee,  and,  circling  fancied  charms, 
Gaze  on  the  fair  deceit,  nor  e'er  forsake 
The  death-cold  statue,  till  it  seems  to  wake. 

Poor  comfort!  but  in  trifles  light  as  these 
My  aching  heart  shall  idly  ask  for  ease. 
Yet  in  the  dead  still  hour  of  night  arise, 
When  troubled  phantoms  flit  before  my  eyes, 
Thou  shalt  not  fright  me,  but  my  senses  close 
In  dreams  of  gentleness  and  lost  repose. 

Vain,  idle  thoughts !     In  those  sad  realms  await 
Thy  lover's  coming  when  released  by  fate ; 
One  common  mansion  for  our  shades  prepare, 
That  our  rent  loves  may  join  eternal  there: 
And  when  I  die,  to  friendship  I  entrust 
In  one  small  urn  to  mix  our  kindred  dust. 

BLAND. 


POETRY.  245 


FROM  THEOCRITUS. 

THE    GOATHERD. 

SWEET  Amarillis!  why  no  longer  laid 
At  all  thy  length,  beneath  this  cave's  cool  shade  >. 
Do  you  not  lisp  me  fondly,  as  of  late, 
Your  little  love?  or  am  I,  now,  your  hate? 

Oh !  would  I  might  become  a  humming  bee 
To  pierce  the  grot,  invisible  to  thee ; 
Creep  midst  the  fillet  that  thy  hair  inweaves, 
And  whisper  through  its  fern  and  ivy-leaves! 

Now  know  I  love:  a  cruel  God,  who  press'd 
With  sucking  lips  the  lioness's  breast ; 
Rear'd  by  that  mother  in  some  savage  wood, 
He  thrills  my  marrow ;  he  consumes  my  blood. 

Oh  gem!  oh  soft-eyed  maid,  of  blackest  brow, 
Thy  clinging  arms  around  thy  shepherd  throw : 
That  he  thy  pouting  lips  may  closely  kiss ; 
E'en  in  an  empty  kiss  there  breathes  of  bliss. 

ELTON. 


246  <;REI-:K  AMATORY 


FROM  BION. 

THE    DEATH    OF    ADONIS. 

I  MOURN  Adonis:  mourn  the  loves  around: 
Ah!  cruel,  cruel  is  that  bleeding  wound: 
Yet  Venus  feels  more  agonizing  smart ; 
A  deeper  wound  has  pierced  within  her  heart. 
Around  the  youth  his  hounds  in  howlings  yell ; 
And  shriek  the  nymphs  from  every  mountain  dell : 
Venus,  herself,  among  the  forest-dales, 
Unsandal'd,  strews  her  tresses  to  the  gales : 
The  wounding  brambles,  bent  beneath  her  tread, 
With  sacred  blood-drops  of  her  feet  are  red : 
She  through  the  lengthening  valleys  shrieks,  and  cries, 
*'  See  where  my  young  Assyrian  bridegroom  lies ! " 
But  round  his  navel  black  the  life-blood  flow'd ; 
His  snowy  breast  and  side  with  purple  glow'd. 

Ah !  Venus !  ah !  the  Loves  for  thee  bewail ; 
With  that  lost  youth  thy  fading  graces  fail ; 
Her  beauty  bloom'd,  while  life  was  in  his  eyes; 

Ah,  woe!  with  him  it  bloom'd,  with  him  it  dies 

And  Venus  o'er  each  solitary  hill, 

And  through  wide  cities,  chaunts  her  dirges  shrill. 

Woe,  Venus !  woe !  Adonis  is  no  more : 

Echoes  repeat  the  lonely  mountains  o'er, 

"  Adonis  is  no  more:"     Woe,  woe  is  me! 

Who  at  her  grievous  love  dry-eyed  can  be? 

Mute  at  th'  intolerable  wound  she  stood  : 

And  saw,  and  knew  the  thigh  dash'd  red  with  blood : 


POETRY.  2-47 

Groaning  she  stretch'd  her  arms:  and  "  stay!"  she  said, 

"  Stay,  poor  Adonis! — lift  thy  languid  head: 

Ah !  let  me  find  thy  last  expiring  breath, 

Mix  lips  with  lips,  and  suck  thy  soul  in  death. 

Wake  hut  a  little,  for  a  last,  last  kiss : 

Be  it  the  last,  but  warm  with  life,  as  this; 

That  through  my  lips  I  may  thy  spirit  drain, 

Suck  thy  sweet  breath ;  drink  love  through  every  vein : 

This  kiss  shall  serve  me  ever  in  thy  stead ; 

Since  thou  thyself,  unhappy  one!  art  fled. 

Disconsolate  I  mourn  Adonis  dead, 

With  tears  unsated,  and  thy  name  I  dread. 

Oh  thrice  belov'd!  thou  now  art  dead  and  gone! 

And  all  my  sweet  love,  like  a  dream,  is  flown. 

Venus  sinks  lonely  on  a  widow'd  bed: 

The  loves  with  listless  feet  my  chamber  tread : 

My  cestus  perish'd  with  thyself!" — — 

ELTON. 


248  GREEK  AMATORY 


FROM  MOSCHUS. 


ON     THE     DEATH     OF     BION. 

SICILIAN  Muses,  pour  the  dirge  of  woe  : 
The  swallows,  nightingales,  that  wont  to  know 
His  pipe  with  joy,  whose  throats  he  taught  to  sing, 
Perch'd  on  the  branches,  made  their  dirges  ring : 
All  other  birds  replied  from  all  the  grove; 
And  ye  too  mourn,  oh  every  woodland  dove ! 

Sicilian  Muses,  pour  the  dirge  of  woe : 
Who,  dear-beloved  !  thy  silent  flute  shall  blow  ? 
What  hardy  lip  shall  thus  adventurous  be  ? 
Thy  lip  has  touch'd  the  pipe  ;  it  breathes  of  thee : 
Mute  echo,  too,  has  caught  the  warbled  sound 
In  whispering  reeds,  that  vocal  tremble  round  : 
I  bear  the  pipe  to  Pan :  yet,  haply,  he 
May  fear  the  trial,  lest  eclipsed  by  thee. 

Sicilian  Muses,  pour  the  dirge  of  woe : 
The  tears  of  pensive  Galatea  flow, 
Missing  thy  song,  which  on  her  ear  would  glide 
When  on  the  sea-shore  sitting  by  thy  side : 
Unlike  the  Cyclops'  music  was  thy  lay, 
For  she  from  him  disdainful  fled  away; 
She  from  the  beacon  look'd  on  thee  serene, 
And  now,  forgetful  of  the  watery  scene, 
Still  on  the  desert  sands,  beside  the  brine, 
She  feeds  the  wandering  herds,  that  late  were  thine. 


POETRY.  049 

Sicilian  Muses,  pour  the  dirge  of  woe: 
Whatever  gifts  the  Muses  could  bestow, 
Are  dead  with  thee  ;   whate'er  the  damsels  gave 
Of  sweet-lipp'd  kisses,  buried  in  thy  grave. 
Around  the  sepulchre  the  Loves  deplore 
Their  loss  :  and  Venus,  shepherd !  loves  thee  more 
Than  the  soft  kiss,  which  late  she  bont  to  sip 
From  dying  fragrance  of  Adonis'  lip. 

ELTON. 


FROM  THE  ANTHOLOGY. 

FLY,  my  beloved,  to  yonder  stream, 
We'll  plunge  us  from  the  noontide  beam! 
Then  cull  the  roses'  humid  bud, 
And  dip  it  in  our  goblet's  flood. 

Our  age  of  bliss,  my  nymph,  shall  fly, 
As  sweet,  though  passing,  as  that  sigh, 
Which  seems  to  whisper  o'er  your  lip, 
Come,  while  you  may,  of  rapture  sip. 

For  age  will  steal  the  rosy  form, 
And  chill  the  pulse  which  trembles  warm! 
And  death — alas!  that  hearts  which  thrill 
Like  your's  and  mine,  should  e'er  be  still! 

MOORE. 


250  GREEK  AMATORY 


FROM  APOLLONIUS  RHODIUS. 


THEN  was  the  virgin's  heart,  within  her  breast, 
Turn'd  to  and  fro.    The  tear  compassionate 
Stole  trickling  from  her  eyes,  and  inward  grief 
Prey'd  with  slow  wasting  on  her  pining  frame : 
Such  weight  of  suffering  did  her  sleepless  love 
Lay  on  her  bosom.     Now  her  will  resolves 
To  gift  the  chief  with  drugs  of  charming  power: 
Now  she  abjures  the  thought ;  and  she  will  die 
Together  with  the  man  she  loves.     Anon 
Her  resolutions  change ;  nor  will  she  die 
With  him  she  loves,  nor  yield  the  charming  drugs ; 
But  calm  with  unresisting  apathy, 
Bear  with  his  fate.     Then  sitting,  while  her  thoughts 
Waver'd  in  musing  doubt,  aloud  she  spake: 
"  Still  am  I  wretched  with  a  choice  of  ills ! 
My  mind  is  impotent  of  thought:  no  cure 
For  this,  the  torment  irresistible 
That  evermore  consumes  me.     Would  to  heaven 
That  I  had  fallen  by  Dian's  nimble  darts, 
Ere  I  had  seen  him !  ere  my  sister's  sons 
Had  gone  for  Greece,  whence  some  unfriendly  God 
Or  fury,  brings  these  lamentable  woes; 
Then  let  him  fight,  and  perish,  if  his  fate 
Decree  that  he  shall  die  upon  the  field. 
How  should  I  shun  my  parents'  eyes,  and  mix 
The  needful  drugs?  what  speech  can  serve  my  turn? 


POETRY.  251 

What  fraud* shall  aid  me,  or  what  secret  wile/ 

Shall  I,  apart  from  his  companions,  see 

The  chief  alone,  and  interchange  kind  words  ? 

Wretch  that  I  am!  for  if  indeed  he  die, 

How  could  I  hope  a  respite  from  my  woes? 

Then  were  my  sum  of  misery  full,  if  he 

Were  reft  of  life.     Away  with  modesty ! 

Away  with  decent  forms!  and  let  him  go, 

Saved  by  my  counsels,  wheresoe'er  he  list. 

And  then,  on  that  same  day  when  he  achieves 

The  combat,  let  me  die:  to  yon  high  beam, 

Let  me,  suspended  by  the  throat,  expire; 

Or  drain  the  juices,  that  destroy  the  soul. 

Yet  men  will  cast  reproaches,  after  life, 

Upon  my  breathless  body :  and,  from  far, 

Shall  the  whole  city  cry  aloud,  and  rail 

Upon  my  death ;  and  here  and  there  will  throng 

The  Colchian  women,  and  pursue  with  taunts 

My  memory.     '  This  maiden's  heart  was  wrapt 

'  So  deeply  in  a  stranger,  that  for  him 

4  She  died;  and  stain'd  her  parents,  and  her  house, 

'  To  love-sick  frenzy  yielding  up  herself.' 

What  shame  will  not  be  mine?  oh,  misery! 

Were  it  not  better  now,  this  very  night, 

Here  in  my  chamber,  to  forsake  my  life? 

So,  by  a  sudden  death,  to  'scape  at  once 

All  this  reproach;  before  my  deeds  have  wrought 

This  foul  disgrace,  unworthy  of  a  name!" 

She  said,  and  to  her  casket  went,  full  stored 
With  drugs:  some  healthful,  some  of  deadly  bane. 
She  placed  it  on  her  knees,  and  wept ;  the  tears 
Unceasing  bathed  her  bosom;  flowing  forth, 
Spite  of  herself,  abundantly,  for  grief 


252  GREEK  AMATORY 

Of  her  hard  fate.     And  now  the  impulse  rose, 

To  cull,  and  taste  the  drugs  that  poison  life. 

She  loosed  the  casket's  fastenings ;  with  ill  hap 

Gathering  the  mortal  herbs,  when  suddenly, 

Came  o'er  her  mind  a  horror  of  the  grave. 

Long  time  she  mused  in  doubt :  life's  pleasing  cares, 

In  smiling  vision  flitted  on  her  sight: 

She  thought  upon  the  pleasures  that  are  found 

Among  the  living ;  she  remember'd  her 

Of  the  gay  playmates  of  her  virgin  hours — 

But  when  the  Virgin  saw  the  morning  light 
Gay-glittering  round,  she  with  her  hands  bound  up 
The  tresses  of  her  yellow  hair,  that  flow'd 
Loose  in  disorder  down :  she  ting'd  her  cheeks, 
Which  tears  had  sullied,  with  cosmetic  red ; 
O'er  her  smooth  body  shed  a  shining  oil, 
That  breathed  nectarean  odour ;  and  enrobed 
Her  form  in  elegant  cymar,  whose  folds 
Were  gather'd  at  the  waist  with  pliant  clasps ; 
And  a  tiara,  silver-tissued,  placed 
Upon  her  fragrant  head :  so  walking  forth 
She  paced  the  palace,  with  elastic  step 
Treading  the  floor:  of  present  ills  alike 
Forgetful,  and  of  greater  yet  behind. 


No  other  theme  employ 'd  Medea's  mind, 
Though  singing ;  nor  could  all  her  sportive  maids 
Whatever  carol  they  alternate  sang, 
Long  please  her :  she,  still  absent,  in  the  song 
Broke  off  abrupt.     Nor  on  the  damsels  round 
Look'd  she  with  stedfast  eyes;  but  turn'd  them  still 
To  the  far  paths,  and  ever  lean'd  her  cheek, 


POETRV.  -253 

Inclining  forward;  and  a  shock  was  felt 
Quick  at  her  heart,  if  e'er  she  listening  caught 
A  foot-fall's  echo,  or  the  passing  wind. 

But  soon  he  came;  and  to  the  longing  maid 
Appear'd  high-bounding:  as  the  Syrian  star, 
Emerged  from  ocean,  rises,  beautiful 
And  glorious  to  behold;   yet  to  the  flocks 
Sends  forth  wide-wasting  plagues.    Thus  Jason  came 
Thus  beautiful  in  aspect;  but  his  sight 
Raised  agonized  emotion,  and  her  heart 
Sank;  her  eyes  darken'd;  and  the  reddening  blood 
Rush'd  to  her  cheek ;   nor  could  her  faltering  knees 
Advance,  nor  yet  recede;  and,  under  her, 
Her  feet  seem'd  rooted  to  the  earth.    Anon 
The  damsels  left  them,  and  retired  apart. 

Thus,  opposite  each  other,  mute  they  stood : 
As  oaks,  or  fir-trees  tall,  nigh-growing,  lift, 
Upon  the  mountains,  their  firm-rooted  stems 
In  quietness,  when  not  a  breath  of  air 
Is  stirring  in  the  leaves ;   anon,  with  gusts 
Of  rushing  wind  are  shaken  to  and  fro 
With  deep  tumultuous  murmur ;  so  the  breath 
Of  love  would  stir  within  them,  and  their  tongues 
Flow  with  no  stinted  utterance.     Jason  felt 
The  virgin  tremble  with  her  heaven-sent  grief, 
And,  soft  in  blandishment,  address'd  her  thus: 
"  Why  dost  thou  fear  me,  maiden,  thus  alone?" 


So  said  the  youth,  with  admiration  high 
Gilding  his  speech;  but  she,  her  eyes  cast  down, 
Smiled  with  enchanting  sweetness ;  all  her  soul 
Melted  within  her,  of  his  words  of  praise 


GREEK  AMATORY 

Enamour'd.     Then  she  fix'd  full  opposite 

Her  eyes  upon  him,  at  a  loss  what  word 

She  first  should  speak,  yet  wishing  in  a  breath 

To  utter  all  her  fond  impetuous  thoughts. 

And,  with  spontaneous  act,  she  took  the  drug 

From  forth  her  fragrant  girdle's  folds,  and  he 

Received  it  at  her  hands,  elate  with  joy : 

And  she  had  drawn  the  spirit  from  her  breast, 

Had  he  but  ask'd  it;  sighing  out  her  soul 

Into  his  bosom.     So  from  Jason's  head 

Waving  with  yellow  locks,  love  lighten'd  forth 

A  lambent  flame,  and  snatch'd  the  darted  rays 

That  trembled  from  his  eyes.     Her  inmost  soul 

Floating  in  bliss,  she  all  dissolved  away ; 

As  dew  on  roses  in  the  morning's  beams 

Evaporating  melts.     So  stood  they  both; 

And  bent,  in  bashfulness,  their  eyes  on  earth, 

Then  glanced  them  on  each  other ;  while  their  brows 

Smiled  joyous,  in  serenity  of  love. 

ELTON. 


POETRV.  2 

FROM  MELEAGER. 

CHARMS  OF  THE  SEX. 

On  locks,  that  Damo's  forehead  wreathe! 

Oh  Heliodora's  sandal'd  feet! 
And  oh  Timarion's  doors,  that  breathe 

Moist  odours  from  her  chamber  sweet ; 
Oh  Anticlea's  smiles,  that  shed 

A  tender  luxury  of  light; 

Oh  fillet!  blooming  fresh  to  sight 
On  Dorothea's  flower-twined  head! 
Love!  not  thy  golden  quiver  hides, 

In  close  reserve,  the  winged  dart; 
Each  arrow  through  my  vital  glides; 

I  feel,  I  feel  them  in  my  heart.  EI.TON. 


FROM  DIONYSIUS. 

I  WISH  I  could  like  Zephyr  steal 

To  wanton  o'er  thy  mazy  vest : 
And  thou  wouldst  ope  thy  bosom-veil 

And  take  me  panting  to  thy  breast ! 

I  wish  I  might  a  rose-bud  grow, 

And  thou  wouldst  cull  me  from  the  bower 

And  place  me  on  that  breast  of  snow, 
Where  I  should  bloom,  a  wintry  flower. 

I  wish  I  were  the  lily's  leaf 

To  fade  upon  that  bosom  warm ; 
There  I  should  wither,  pale  and  brief, 

The  trophy  of  thy  fairer  form  !  MOORE. 


2f)6  GREEK   AMATORY 


PAULUS  SILENTIARIUS. 

THE     OFFERING    OF    A    DESERTED    LOVER. ' 

To  THEE  the  reliques  of  a  thousand  flowers, 
Torn  from  the  chaplet  twined  in  gayer  hours ; 
To  thee  the  goblet  carved  with  skill  divine, 
Erewhile  that  foam'd  with  soul-subduing  wine; 

The  locks,  now  scatter'd  on  the  dusty  ground, 
Once  dropping  odours,  and  with  garlands  crown'd, 
Outcast  of  pleasure,  and  of  hope  bereft, 
Lais !  to  thee,  thy  Corydon  has  left. 

Oft  on  thy  threshold  stretch'd  at  close  of  day, 
He  wept  and  sigh'd  the  cheerless  night  away, 
Nor  dared  invoke  thy  name,  nor  dared  aspire 
To  melt  thy  bosom  with  his  amorous  fire. 

Alas!  alas!  now  cold  and  senseless  grown, 
These  last  sad  offerings  make  his  sorrows  known, 
And  dare  upbraid  those  scornful  charms  that  gave 
His  youth  unpitied  to  the  cheerless  grave. 


POKTKV. 


FROM  PHILODEiMUS. 

PRAYER    TO    VENUS. 

MY  Helen  is  little  and  brown;  but  more  tender 

Than  the  cygnet's  soft  down,  or  the  plumage  of  doves ; 

And  her  form,  like  the  ivy,  is  graceful  and  slender, 
Like  the  ivy  entwined  round  the  tree  that  it  loves. 

Her  voice — not  thy  cestus,  oh  Goddess  of  pleasure, 
Can  so  melt  with  desire  or  with  ecstasy  burn ; 

Her  kindness  unbounded,  she  gives  without  measure 
To  her  languishing  lover,  and  asks  no  return. 

Such  a  girl  is  my  Helen — then  never,  ah  never, 
Let  my  amorous  heart,  mighty  Venus,  forget  her ; 

Oh  grant  me  to  keep  my  sweet  mistress  for  ever  ; 
— For  ever — at  least,  till  you  send  me  a  better  ! 

MERIVALE. 


APPENDIX  III.  IV. 

REFERRING    TO    THE    ESSAY    ON    TUT. 

POETRY  OF  PETRARCH, 

SECT.  XIII. 


A     THEORY    OF    LOVE 

BY  LORENZO  DE'  MEDICIS, 
AND    COMPARATIVE    DESCRIPTIONS 

OF  FEMALE  BEAUTY 

ACCORDING  TO  THE  PLATONIC  NOTIONS, 
BY  THE  EARLY  ITALIAN  POETS. 


THEORY  OF  LOVE  BY  LORENZO  DE'  MEDICIS, 


PREFIXED    TO    HIS    AMATORY    POETRY. 


WITH  justice  might  I  be  blamed,  had  I  been  so 
richly  gifted  by  nature,  as  to  make  it  easy  for  me  to 
perform  every  action  in  a  perfect  manner ;  but  this 
pre-eminence  has  been  granted  to  very  few,  and  even 
to  these  only  on  very  rare  occasions  during  their  lives : 
whence  upon  considering  the  frailty  of  humanity,  and 
being  bound  for  safety's  sake  to  confine  ourselves  to 
the  common  condition  of  mankind,  and  the  constant 
practice  of  the  world,  I  think  those  actions  are  to  be 
preferred  which  give  rise  to  the  fewest  evils. 

Now  Love  is  so  far  from  being  reprehensible,  that, 
on  the  contrary,  it  is  the  surest  indication  of  a  noble 
and  lofty  mind;  and  a  special  cause  that  allures  and 
excites  men  to  the  active  practice  of  the  virtues  which 
dwell  in  the  soul.  Whoever  seeks  for  the  true  defini 
tion  of  love,  discovers  it  to  be  only — A  DESIRE  OF 
THE  BEAUTIFUL. — And  if  this  be  the  case,  vice  and 
deformity,  in  every  shape,  must  be  disgusting  to  him 
who  truly  loves.  Beauty  of  countenance  and  mind  is 
the  principle  and  guide,  which  leads  man  to  seek  for 
beauty  in  other  objects,  to  mount  up  to  virtue,  which 
is  beauty  half  earthly,  half  divine,  and  come  at  last  to 
repose  in  the  sovereign  beauty,  that  is,  God. 


262  THEORY  OF  LOVE. 

THE  conditions  which  appear  necessarily  to  belong 
to  a  true,  exalted,  and  worthy  love,  are  two: — First, To 

LOVE  BUT  ONE Second,  To  LOVE  THIS  ONE  AL 
WAYS.  Not  many  lovers  have  hearts  so  generous  as  to 
be  capable  of  fulfilling  these  two  conditions;  and  ex 
ceedingly  few  women  display  sufficient  attractives  to 
withhold  men  from  the  violation  of  them;  yet  "without 
these  there  is  no  true  love.  For  in  addition  to  natural 
charms,  there  must  be  found  in  the  person  beloved, 
talent,  accomplishments,  propriety  of  behaviour,  ele 
gant  manners,  a  graceful  presence,  suavity  of  speech, 
good  sense,  love,  constancy,  and  fidelity. 

BEAUTY  and  the  eyes  first  give  birth  to  love;  but 
other  endowments  are  necessary  for  its  preservation. 
Because,  should  sickness,  or  other  accidents  discolour 
the  cheek,  or  early  beauty  fade  away  in  age,  the  gifts 
of  mind  remain  and  are  not  less  dear  to  the  heart, 
than  beauty  to  the  eye,  and  pleasure  to  the  senses. 
The  senses,  it  is  true,  open  the  door  to  love,  but  after 
wards  the  soul  must  cherish  it  like  a  hallowed  fire, 
must  refine  and  purify  it  by  degrees,  and  feed  on  it. 
And  yet  these  estimable  qualities  may  not  be  enough, 
unless  the  lover  possess  sensibility  of  heart  to  discern 
them,  and  elevation  and  generosity  of  soul  to  appre 
ciate  them.  But  when  the  above-mentioned  conditions 
meet  in  two  enamoured  persons — she  becomes  more 
beautiful  of  soul,  more  wise,  more  happy  in  her  affec 
tions — and  he,  to  please  her  ever  more  and  more,  must, 
in  all  his  actions,  endeavour  to  excel  in  virtue,  and 
beautify  his  soul,  that  he  may  emulate  the  moral  and 
corporeal  graces  of  his  mistress. 


THEORY  OF  LOVE.  263 

THE  SAME  THEORY 
ILLUSTRATED  BY  SHAKSPEARE. 

SONNET    CXVI. 

LET  me  not  to  the  marriage  of  true  minds 

Admit  impediments.     Love  is  not  love 
Which  alters  when  it  alteration  finds, 

Or  bends  with  the  remover  to  remove; 
O  no!  it  is  an  ever-fixed  mark 

That  looks  on  tempests  and  is  never  shaken ; 
It  is  the  star  to  every  wandering  bark, 

Whose  worth 's  unknown, although  his  height  be  taken. 
Love's  not  Time's  fool,  though  rosy  lips  and  cheeks 

Within  his  bending  sickle's  compass  come; 
Love  alters  not  with  his  brief  hours  and  weeks, 

But  bears  it  out  even  to  the  edge  of  doom : 
If  this  be  error,  and  upon  me  prov'd, 

I  never  writ,  nor  no  man  ever  loved. 


264  DESCRIPTIONS  OF 

GUIDO  CAVALCANTI. 

CHI  e  questa  che  vien  che  ogni  uom  la  mira! 
Che  fa  tremar  di  caritate  1'a're? 
E  niena  seco  Amor,  si  che  parlare 
Null' uom  ne  puote;  ma  ciascun  sospira? 

Ahi  Dio!  che  sembra  quando  gli  occhi  gira! 
Dicalo  Amor,  ch'  io  nol  saprei  contare : 
Cotanto  d'  umilta  donna  mi  pare, 
Che  ciascun' altra  inver  di  lei  chiam'ira. 

Non  si  porria  contar  la  sua  piacenza ; 
Che  a  lei  s'inchina  ogni  gentil  yirtute, 
E  la  Beltate  per  sua  Dea  la  mostra. 

Non  e  si  alta  gia  la  mente  nostra, 
E  non  s'  e  posta  in  noi  tanta  salute 
Che  propriamente  n'  abbiam  conoscenza. 

LITERAL    TRANSLATION. 

WHO  is  this — that  all  men  gaze  on  her  as  she  ap 
proaches? — who  makes  the  very  air  tremble  with  soft 
affection? — who  comes,  with  Love  by  her  side — and  in 
whose  presence  none  can  speak,  but  only  sigh?  Hea 
ven!  what  a  sight  is  displayed  when  she  moves  her 
eyes!  Let  Love  himself  describe  it,  for  I  am  quite 
unable.  She  is  alone  the  lady  of  gentleness— com 
pared  with  whom,  all  others  seem  rude  and  fierce. 
Her  sweet  and  graceful  action  none  can  relate.  To 
her  every  lofty  virtue  bows  the  head;  and  beauty 
points  to  her  as  her  own  goddess.  The  mind  of  man 
is  not  created  so  high,  nor  is  divine  grace  so  im 
planted  within  us,  that  we  are  capable  of  attaining  the 
true  knowledge  of  all  her  perfections. 


FEMALE  BEAUTY.  265 

DANTE  ALIGHIERI. 

NEGLI  occhi  porta  la  mia  Donna  Ainore, 
Perche  si  fa  gentil  cio  ch'  ella  mira : 
Ov'ella  passa  ogni  uom  ver  lei  si  gira: 
E  cui  salute  fa  treinar  lo  core, 

Si  clie  bassando  il  viso  tutto  srnuore, 
Ed  ogni  suo  difetto  allor  sospira: 
Fugge  dinanzi  a  lei  superbia  ed  ira; 
Ajutatemi,  donne,  a  farle  onore. 

Ogni  dolcezza,  ogni  pensiero  umile 
Nasce  nel  core  a  chi  parlar  la  sente. 
Ond'  e  beato  chi  prima  la  vide: 

Quel  ch'  ella  par  quando  un  poco  sorride 
Non  si  puo  dire  nt;  tenere  a  mente; 
Si  e  nuovo  miracolo  e  gentile ! 

LITERAL    TRANSLATION. 

IN  the  eyes  of  my  mistress,  Love  is  seated,  for  they 
ennoble  every  thing  she  looks  upon.  Where  she 
passes,  men  turn  and  gaze  ;  and  whomsoever  she  sa 
lutes,  his  heart  trembles ;  the  colour  forsakes  his 
downcast  face,  and  he  sighs  for  all  his  unworthiness. 
Pride  and  anger  fly  before  her.  Assist  me,  ladies,  to 
do  her  honour!  All  gentleness,  all  thoughts  of  love 
and  kindness,  spring  in  the  hearts  of  those  who  hear 
her  speak,  so  that  it  is  very  blessedness  first  to  behold 
her.  But  when  she  faintly  smiles,  it  passes  both  ut 
terance  and  conception;  so  wondrous  is  the  miracle, 
and  so  gracious! 


266  DESCRIPTIONS  OF 

FRANCESCO  PETRARCA. 

IN  qual  parte  del  Cielo,  in  quale  Idea 
Era  1'  esempio  onde  Natura  tolse 
Quel  bel  viso  leggiadro  in  ch'ella  volse 
Mostrar  quaggiu  quanto  lassu  potea? 

Qual  Ninfa  in  fonti,  in  selve  mai  qual  Dea 
Chiome  d'oro  si  fine  all' aura  sciolse? 
Quando  un  cor  tante  in  se  virtuti  accolge? 
Benche  la  somma  e  di  mia  morte  rea! 

Per  divina  bellezza  indarno  mira, 
Chi  gli  occhi  di  costei  giammai  non  vide 
Come  soavemente  ella  gli  gira ; 

Non  sa  come  Amor  sana  e  come  ancide, 
Chi  non  sa  come  dolce  ella  sospira 
E  come  dolce  parla  e  dolce  ride. 

LITERAL    TRANSLATION. 

IN  what  region  of  heaven,  in  what  world  of  idea, 
was  the  model  whence  Nature  drew  that  fair  and 
beautiful  face,  meaning  to  display  here  below  the 
utmost  extent  of  her  powers  above?  What  nymph 
of  fountains,  what  goddess  of  the  woods,  ever  let  float 
upon  the  breeze  tresses  of  such  pure  gold?  When 
have  so  many  virtues  met  in  a  single  breast? — even 
though  the  chief  of  all  her  perfections  is  guilty  of  my 
death!  He  looks  in  vain  for  divine  beauty,  who  never 
sees  her  eyes,  whenever  she  turns  them  sweetly  round. 
He  knows  not  how  love  wounds,  and  heals,  who  knows 
not  how  she  sweetly  sighs,  and  sweetly  speaks,  and 
sweetly  smiles. 


FEMALE  BEAUTY.  267 

GIUSTO  DE'  CONTI. 

CHI  e  costei,  che  nostra  etate  adorna 
Di  tante  meraviglie  e  di  valorc? 
E  in  forma  umana  in  compagnia  d'Amore 
Fra  noi  mortali  come  Dea  soggiorna? 

Di  senno  e  di  belta  dal  Ciel  s'  adorna 
Qual  spirto  ignudo  e  sciolto  d'ogni  errore; 
E  per  destin  la  degna  a  tanto  onore 
Natura,  che  a  mirarla  pur  ritorna. 

In  lei  quel  poco  lume  e  tutto  accolto 
E  quel  poco  splendor  che  a'  giorni  nostri 
Sovra  noi  cade  da  benigne  stelle; 

Tal  che  '1  Maestro  dc'  stellati  chiostri 
Si  lauda,  rimirando  nel  bel  volto ; 
Che  fe  gia  di  sua  man  cose  si  belle. 

LITERAL    TRANSLATION. 

WHO  is  she  that  so  adorns  our  age  with  the  graces 
of  her  rare  perfections?  —  who,  like  a  goddess  in  a 
human  form,  sojourns  among  us  mortals,  with  Love 
for  her  companion?  with  sense  and  beauty  alike  de 
rived  from  heaven,  she  seems  a  pure  spirit,  divested  of 
all  earthly  error;  and  Nature,  who  destined  her  to  such 
exalted  honour,  turns  back  to  contemplate  the  wonder 
she  has  wrought.  Whatever  gleams  of  light  and 
splendour  the  benignant  planets  vouchsafe  to  shed 
upon  this  world  of  ours,  all  are  centered  in  her;  so 
that  the  Divine  Master  of  the  starry  spheres  applauds 
himself  when  he  beholds  her  beauty,  well  pleased  that 
his  Almighty  hands  have  formed  an  object  so  worthy 
of  adoration. 


APPENDIX  V.  VI. 

REFERRING   TO  THE   ESSAY   ON 

THE  POETRY  OF  PETRARCH,  SECT,  XV. 
TO   THE   ESSAY   ON   HIS  CHARACTER,  SECT 
AND  TO  THE  PARALLEL,  SECT.  XVI. 


LETTERS 
OF  PETRARCH  AND  DANTE, 

FROM  THEIR  MANUSCRIPTS. 


PETRARCH'S  LETTERS  IN  ITALIAN, 

TRANSCRIBED    FROM    THE    ORIGINALS 

IX  THE  POSSESSION  OF  LORD  HOLLAND. 

Rt:v.  et  Amplissimo  Pra-siili  LumboziensiJacomoColumnio, 
J)om.  perhonorando,  Aventonem. 

REV.  et  amplissime  Prasul,  Domine  perhonorande. 
Me  invitate  en  Avignone  a  trattenerme  a  la  Corte 
Romana  con  gonfiarme  di  speciosissime  speranze.  E  se 
lo  effetto  amorevolissimo  di  voi  non  me  fosse  a  mille 
altre  dimostranze  cognosciuto  potrei  afFermare  esserme 
voi  el  piti  rio  nemico  che  el  misero  Francesco  potesse 
avere  al  mondo.  El  sa  per  lo  tanto  che  haviamo  piu 
fiate  favellato  onsieme,  le  grandi  promissioni  fattemi 
dal  Pontefice  Giovanne,  a  modo  io  me  lusingava  essere 
ben  tosto  en  qualche  stato  sublime  ;  e  poi  me  cognos- 
co  essere  el  tapino  Petrarca  che  sempre  fui,  el  saro. 
Ben  el  sapete  voi  con  la  longa  experientia  quanto.  le 
sono  fallaci  et  fraudolente  le  lusinghe  de  la  Corte, 
anzi  che  en  quella  li  huomini  ben  veduti  sono  li  ribaldi, 
o  li  idioti,  o  somigliante  schiuma  de  gente,  che  o  per 
simonia,  favori,  o  adulatione,  el  montano  a  li  gradi  e  le 
dignitade.  O  Tempora,  O  mores  !  El  mi  torrei  a  vitu- 
perio  per  queste  non  licite  vie  conseguire  cosa  di  buono. 
Hor  puote  esser  dunque  che  voi  Misser  Jacomo  che  el 
siete  ingenuo  et  virtuoso  Signore  el  me  proponiate  che 


272  PETRARCH'S 

io  faccia  ritorno  en  la  Corte,  dove  non  che  uno  che  el 
se  professa  homo  dabbene,  ma  lo  sia  punto  iudicioso 
si  torrebbe  a  gran  vergogna  dimorare  ove  no  el  costren- 
gesse  el  bisogno?  Prseterea  quando  ben  ancora  el 
fosse  certo  haver  a  conseguire  cosa  di  buono  da  la  mu- 
nificentia  del  Papa,  li  vitii  scelerati  de  la  Corte,  el  me 
sono  cosi  a  noia  che  al  sol  pensarli  el  me  fa  stomaco. 
Sappia  che  en  partirme  da  la  Corte  del  Papa  cantai  il 
Psalmo:  '  Tn  exitu  Israel  de  .ZEgypto.'  Godo  en 
queste  amene  solitudini  de  Valclusa  una  dolce  et  im- 
perturbata  tianquillita,  el  virtuoso  e  placidissimo  otio 
de  miei  studj  ;  el  tempo  che  mi  vaca  de  le  volte  passo 
a  Cabrieres  per  diportarme.  Ah  !  se  vi  fosse  licito 
Misser  Jacomo  el  dimorare  en  la  dicta  Valle  di  certo 
vi  rincrescereste  di  tutto  el  Mondo,  non  che  de  la 
Corte  del  Papa.  Son  fermo  en  la  deliberatione  di  non 
piu  rivederla.  Me  commendi  en  buona  gratia  de  le 
excellente  Signer  Misser  Stephano  Colonna,  vostro 
padre,  et  di  Misser  el  Cardinale,  vostro  virtuoso  fra- 
tello,  et  conservatemi  el  vostro  cordiale  affecto.  Vale. 
En  Valclusa. 

Kal.  Junii  MCCCXXXVIII. 

Tui  Studiosissimus, 

FRANC.  PETRARCA. 


A    TRANSLATION    OF    THIS    LETTER    IS    INSERTED    IN    THE    ESSAY 
ON    THE    CHARACTER    OF    PETRARCH,    SECT.   I. 


ITALIAN  LETTERS.  273 

Rev.  et  Atnplissime  Domine  Prasul  Jacob,  Domine 
perhonortinde. 

Jo  godo  assai  ben  perche  voi  per  lo  affecto  en  le 
quale  mi  avete,  patiate  si  grave  noia,  quando  el  sentite 
carpite  le  mie  composition!  da  alcuno  ignorantello  dis- 
gratiato  :  impercioche  penso  asserve  molto  en  grado 
el  mio  honore  el  che  non  poteria  essere  se  non  me 
amassivo  :  Sappiate  non  di  meno  per  vostro  consuolo 
che  jo  de  el  garrire  de  le  stridule  cicade  non  ricevo  piii 
rincrescimento  che  el  senta  la  Luna  quando  un  rab- 
bioso  mastino  con  isquarciata  gola  latra  contro  de  ella. 
Se  ho  voluto  imitare  el  primo  verso  de  la  canzone  de 
Arnaldo  Danielo  Provenzale, 

"  Ore/,  et  raison  es  que  je  cante  de  Amour," 

mutilandolo  en  parte,  el  f'eci  cosi  poi  che  entiero  non 
faceva  al  mio  proposito;  e  per  la  dicta  cagione  me 
sono  servito  di  quello  parlare  solo  en  quello  che  me 
bisognava.  Se  li  miserelli  el  sapessero  la  differentia 
tra  lo  imitare,  el  prender  di  netto,  cosi  sconciamente 
non  cicaleriano.  Ma  io  me  console  con  el  detto  de  M. 
Tullio,  "  Vera  laus  fit  a  laudato  viro."  Hor  pensate 
voi  praestantissimo  Messer  Jacopo  se  el  me  ponno  le 
costoro  ineptie  et  cicalecci  portar  duolo.  El  me  rin- 
cresce  pur  assai  che  el  nostro  virtuosissimo  M.  Ber 
nardo  el  sia  molestato  da  el  suo  consueto  male,  come 
voi  me  ne  date  aviso  con  la  vostra  lictera  :  Homo  cosi 
excellente  el  fora  dovere  che  non  patisce  male  alcuno, 
se  cosi  el  fosse  en  piacere  de  Iddio.  El  salute  a  nome 
mio,  et  sappia  che  molto  me  duole  de  ello.  El  ve  prego 


274  PETRARCH'S 

ad  excusarme  appresso  el  Reverendiss.  Card.  M.  Joanne, 
vostro  fratello,  de  el  non  haver  data  opera  en  trovar  el 
libro  che  el  me  disse;  impercioche,  en  questi  pochi 
momenti  che  ho  dimorato  appresso  el  Serenissimo  Re 
Roberto  non  sono  stato  niente  mio,  e  volendo  partire 
per  Roma,  non  me  ha  vacato  el  salutare  alcuno  amico. 
Me  commenda  en  gratia  de  lo  excell.  M.  Stephano, 
vostro  honoratissimo  Padre,  et  Franciscum  tuum  tuis 
iucundissimis  epistolis  exhilarare  non  desinas.  Vale. 
Neapol.  viii.  Kal.  April  MCCCXLI. 

Tibi  de  voluntate  et  debito  deditissimus, 

F.  PETRARCA. 

TRANSLATION. 

Reverend  and  most  dignified  Prelate,  James  Colonna, 

my  very  honoured  Lord. 

IT  is  delightful  to  me  to  receive  such  an  undoubted 
proof  of  your  affectionate  regard  for  me,  as  appears 
from  the  displeasure  you  feel  in  hearing  my  compo 
sitions  criticised  by  some  poor  wretched  ignorant 
creature ;  for  you  would  not  take  so  warm  an  interest 
in  what  concerns  my  honour,  if  you  did  not  love  me 
sincerely.  Know  then,  for  your  comfort,  that  I  feel 
no  more  disturbed  with  the  shrill  tones  of  those  chirp 
ing  crickets,  than  the  moon  does  at  the  loud  baying 
of  a  furious  wide- mouthed  mastiff.  If  I  really  had  any 
intention  to  imitate  the  first  verse  of  the  Provencal 
Poet,  Arnaldo  Danielo, 

"  Drez  et  raison  es  que  je  cante  de  Amour," 

it  was  only  to  imitate  it  in  part,  because  an  imitation 
of  the  whole  did  not  suit  my  purpose ;  and  for  that 


ITALIAN  LETTERS.  275 

very  reason  I  made  use  of  his  own  proper  words,  but 
only  so  far  as  was  necessary  for  my  purpose.  If  these 
poor  wretches  could  conceive  the  difference  between 
an  imitation  and  an  absolute  plagiarism,  they  would 
not  hold  such  idle  and  extravagant  language  as  they 
now  do.  But  my  comfort  is  in  the  words  of  Cicero, 
"  Vera  laus  fit  a  laudato  viro."  Conceive,  therefore, 
my  dear  and  excellent  friend,  if  these  idle  chatterings 
can  give  me  uneasiness  for  a  single  moment.  It  is  a  mat 
ter  of  real  concern  to  me  to  learn  from  your  letter  that 
our  worthy  and  admirable  friend  Messer  Bernardo  is 
tormented  with  his  old  complaint.  So  excellent  a  man 
ought  not,  if  such  were  the  will  of  Heaven,  to  suffer 
any  grievance  w  hatever.  Remember  me  kindly  to  him, 
and  assure  him  of  the  pain  I  feel  on  his  account.  I 
beg  you  also  to  make  an  apology  on  my  part  to  the 
Reverend  Cardinal  John,  your  brother,  for  not  having 
endeavoured  to  find  the  book  he  pointed  out  to  me. 
The  reason  for  the  omission  was  this :  in  the  very  short 
time  I  passed  with  the  Most  Serene  King  Robert,  I 
was  never  for  a  single  moment  my  own  master;  and 
when  I  proposed  returning  to  Rome,  I  had  not  suf 
ficient  time  left  to  take  leave  of  any  of  my  friends.  Be 
so  good,  in  my  name,  most  respectfully  to  salute  your 
excellent  and  honoured  father,  Messer  Stephen  Colon- 
na,  and  continue,  as  usual,  to  exhilarate  your  old  friend 
Francis  with  your  delightful  letters.  Farewell. 
Naples,  8th  Calends  of  April,  1341. 

From  inclination  as  well  as  duty, 

Your  most  devoted  Friend, 

FRANCIS  FETRARCA. 


A    LETTER    OF    DANTE'S 

From  the  Original 

IN     THE    LAURENTIAN     LIBRARY     AT    FLORENCE 
PLUTEUM  XXIX.   CODEX  VIII.  FOL.    123. 

IN  licteris  vestris  et  reverentia  debita  et  affectione 
receptis,  quam  repatriatio  mea  cure  sit  vobis  ex  animo, 
grata  mente  ac  diligenti  animaversione  concepi.  etenim 
tanto  me  districtius  obligastis,  quanto  rarius  exules 
invenire  amicos  contingit.  ad  illam  vero  significata 
respondeo,  et  si  non  eatenus  qualiter  forsam  pusilla- 
nimitas  appeteret  aliquorum,  ut  sub  examine  vestri 
consilii  sit  ante  judicium,  affectuose  deposco.  ecce 
igitur  quod  per  licteras  vestri  meique  nepotis  necnon 
aliorum  quamplurimum  amicorum  significatum  est 
mihi  per  ordinamentum  nuper  factum  florentie  (sic) 
super  absolutione  bannitorum,  quod  si  solvere  vellem 
certam  pecunie  (sic)  quantitatem  vellemque  pati  notam 
oblationis  et  absolvi  possem  et  redire  at  presens  (sic). 
in  quo  quidem  duo  ridenda  et  male  perconsiliata  sunt. 
Pater,  dico  male  perconsiliata  per  illos  qui  talia  expres- 
serunt.  nam  vestre  litere  (sic)  discretius  et  consultius 
clausulate  nicil  de  talibus  continebant.  estne  ista  re- 
vocatio  gloriosaqua  d.all.  (i.  e.  Datites  Aligherius)  revo- 
catur  ad  patriam  per  trilustrium  fere  perpessus  exilium? 
hecne  (sic)  meruit  conscientia  manifesta  quibuslibet  ? 
hec  sudor  et  labor  continuatus  in  studiis?  absit  a 
viro  philosophic  (sic)  domestico  temeraria  terreni 


DANTE'S  LETTER.  277 

cordis  humilitas,  ut  more  cnjusdam  cioli  et  alioruin, 
infamia  quasi  vinctus  ipse  se  patiatur  o  Herri,  absit  a 
viro  predicante  juslitiam,  ut  purpessus  injuriam  infe- 
rentibus,  velut  benemerentibus,  pecuniam  suam  solvat. 
non  est  hec  (sic)  via  redeundi  adpatriam,  pater  mi,  sed 
si  alia  per  vos,  aut  deinde  per  alios  invenietur  que  fame 
(sic)  d.  (Dantis)  que  onori  non  deroget,  illam  non  len- 
tis  passibus  acceptabo.  quod  si  per  nullam  talem  flo- 
rentia  introitur,  nunquam  tiorentiam  introibo.  quidni? 
nonne  solis  astrorumque  specula  ubique  conspiciam  ? 
nonne  dulcissimas  veritates  potero  speculari  ubique  sub 
celo  (sic)  ni  prius  inglorium,  imo  ignominiosum  populo, 
florentineque  civitati  me  reddam  ?  quippe  panis  non 
deficiet 


A    TRANSLATION    OF    THIS    LETTER    IS    INSERTED    IN    THE 
PARALLEL,    SECT.    XVI. 


APPENDIX  VII. 


TRANSLATIONS 
FROM    PETRARCH, 

BY 

BARBARINA  LADY  DACRE 


TO     A     FRIEND- 

The  brook,  soft  rippling  on  its  pebb/ed  way, 
With  many  a  winding  fondly  lingers  long 
fn  valleys  low,  stealing  wild  weeds  among, 
And  pendant  boughs  that  o'er  its  surface  play  ; 

Its  humble  pride  still  to  reject  the  gay 

And  varied  flowers  thai  round  its  mirror  throng, 
So  I,  erewhile,  lone  icarbled  my  rude  song, 
Echoing  Valclnsa's  sad  melodious  lay: 

And  as,  lured  forth  along  the  unsheltered  plain, 
The  little  stream  at  length,  with  bolder  course, 
Bears  tributary  waters  to  the  main  ; 

I,  too,  though  late,  to  thee  my  offering  bear, 
Advent'rous,  won  by  Friendship's  gentle  Jorce 
From  covert  shades,  the  broader  light  to  dare. 


TRANSLATIONS 


CANZONE. 

NELL  A  stagion  che'l  ciel  rapido  incliina 
Verso  occidente,  e  che'l  di  nostro  vola 
A  gente  che  di  la  forse  1'  aspetta  ; 
Veggendosi  in  Ionian  paese  sola 
La  stanca  vecchiarella  pellegrina 
Raddoppia  i  passi,  e  piu  e  piu  s'  afFretta  ; 
E  poi  cosi  soletta 
Al  fin  di  sua  giornata 
Talor  £  consolata 

D'alcun  breve  riposo,  ov'ella  obblia 
La  noia  e'l  mal  della  passata  via. 
Ma  lasso  !   ogni  dolor  che  '1  di  m'  adduce 
Cresce,  qualor  s'invia 
Per  partirsi  da  noi  1'eterna  luce. 

Come'l  sol  volge  le  'nfiammate  rote 
Per  dar  luogo  alia  notte,  onde  discende 
Dagli  altissimi  monti  maggior  1'ombra  ; 
L'avaro  zappador  1'arme  riprende, 
E  con  parole  e  con  alpestri  note 
Ogni  gravezza  del  suo  petto  sgombra  : 
E  poi  la  mensa  ingombra 
Di  povere  vivande, 
Simili  a  quolle  ghiande 
Le  qua'fuggendo  tutto'l  mondo  onora. 
Ma  chi  vuol  si  rallegri  ad  ora  ad  ora ; 
Ch'i'pur  non  ebbi  ancor,  non  diro  lieta, 
Ma  riposata  un'ora, 
Ne  per  volger  di  ciel  ne  di  piaueta. 


FROM  HJTKARCH.  2K.'J 


CANZONE. 

IN  the  still  evening,  when  with  rapid  flight 
Low  in  the  western  sky  the  sun  descends 
To  give  expectant  nations  life  and  light ; 
The  aged  pilgrim,  in  some  clime  unknown 
Slow  journeying,  right  onward  fearful  bends 
With  weary  haste,  a  stranger  and  alone  ; 
Yet,  when  his  labour  ends, 
He  solitary  sleeps, 
And  in  short  slumber  steeps 
Each  sense  of  sorrow  hanging  on  the  day, 
And  all  the  toil  of  the  long-passed  way : 
But  oh  !   each  pang,  that  wakes  with  morn's  first  ray, 
More  piercing  wounds  my  breast 

When  Heaven's  eternal  light  sinks  crimson  in  the  West. 

His  burning  wheels  when  downward  Phoebus  bends 
And  leaves  the  world  to  night,  its  lengthened  shade 
Each  towering  mountain  o'er  the  vale  extends ; 
The  thrifty  peasant  shoulders  light  his  spade, 
With  sylvan  carol  gay  and  uncouth  note 
Bidding  his  cares  upon  the  wild  winds  float, 
Content  in  peace  to  share 
His  poor  and  humble  fare, 
As  in  that  golden  age 

VVe  honour  still,  yet  leave  its  simple  ways ; 
Whoe'er  so  list,  let  joy  his  hours  engage  : 
No  gladness  e'er  has  cheered  my  gloomy  days, 
Nor  moment  of  repose, 

However  rolled  the  spheres,  whatever  planet  rose. 


284  TRANSLATIONS 

Quamlo  vcdo'l  pastor  calare  i  raggi 
Del  gran  pianeta  al  nido  ov'cgli  alberga, 
E'mbrunir  le  contradc  d'oriente: 
Drizzasi  in  piedi,  e  con  1'usata  verga, 
Lasciando  1'erba  e  le  fontane  e  i  faggi, 
Move  la  schiera  sua  soavemente  : 
Poi  lontan  dalla  gente 
O  casetta,  o  spelunca 
Di  verdi  frondi  'ngiunca  : 
Ivi  senza  pensier  s'adagia  e  dorme. 
Alii  crudo  Amor  !  ma  tu  allor  piu  m'informe 
A  seguir  d'una  fera  che  mi  stugge 
La  voce  e  i  passi  e  1'orme; 
E  lei  non  stringi  che  s'appiatta  e  fugge. 

E  i  naviganti  in  qualche  chiusa  valle 
Gettan  le  membra,  poi  che'l  sol  s'asconde, 
Sul  duro  legno  e  sotto  1'aspre  gonne. 
Ma  io,  perche  s'attuffi  in  mezzo  1'onde, 
E  lasci  Spagna  dietro  le  sue  spalle 
E  Granata  e  Marrocco  e  le  Colonne ; 
E  gli  uomini  e  le  donne 
E'l  mondo  e  gli  animal: 
Acquetino  i  lor  mali, 
Fine  non  pongo  al  mio  ostinato  affanno  : 
E  duolmi  cli'ogni  giorno  arroge  al  dannn  ; 
Ch'i'son  gia  pur  crescendo  in  qucsta  voglia 
Ben  presso  al  decim'anno, 
Ne  poss'indovinar  chi  me  ne  scioglia. 


I-'KOM   I'RTKARCH. 

Whenas  the  shepherd  marks  ihr  sloping  ray 
Of  the  great  orb  that  sinks  in  ocean's  bed, 
While  on  the  East  soft  steals  the  evening  grey, 
He  rises,  and  resumes  the  accustomed  crook, 
Quitting  the  beechen  grove,  the  field,  the  brook, 
And  gently  homeward  drives  the  flock  he  fed ; 
Then  far  from  human  tread, 
In  lonely  hut  or  cave, 
O'er  which  the  green  boughs  wave, 
In  sleep  without  a  thought  he  lays  his  head  : 
Ah  !   cruel  Love  !  at  this  dark  silent  hour 
Thou  wak'st  to  trace,  and  with  redoubled  power, 
The  voice,  the  step,  the  air 

Of  her,  who  scorns  thy  chain,  and  flies  thy  fatal  snare. 

And  in  some  sheltered  bay,  at  evening's  close, 
The  mariners  their  rude  coats  round  them  fold, 
Stretched  on  the  rugged  plank  in  deep  repose : 
But  I,  though  Phoebus  sink  into  the  main, 
And  leave  Granada  wrapt  in  night,  with  Spain, 
Morocco,  and  the  Pillars  famed  of  old, 
Though  all  of  human  kind, 
And  every  creature  blest, 
All  hush  their  ills  to  rest, 
No  end  to  my  unceasing  sorrows  find  ; 
And  still  the  sad  account  swells  day  by  day  ; 
For  since  these  thoughts  on  my  lorn  spirit  prey, 
I  see  the  tenth  year  roll  ; 

Nor  hope  of  freedom  springs  in  my  desponding  soul. 


286  TRANSLATIONS 

E,  perche  im  poco  nel  parlar  mi  sfogo, 
Veggio  la  sera  i  buoi  tornare  sciolti 
Dalle  campagne,  e  da'  solcati  colli. 
I  miei  sospiri  a  me  perche  non  tolti 
Quando  che  sia?  perche  no'l  grave  giogo  ? 
.  Perche  di  e  notte  gli  occhi  miei  son  molli  ? 
Misero  me !  che  volli, 
Quando  primier  si  fiso 
Gli  tenni  nel  bel  viso 
Per  iscolpirlo  imaginando  in  parte? 
Onde  mai  no  per  forza,  no  per  arte 
Mosso  sara,  fin  ch'i'  sia  dato  in  preda 
A  chi  tutto  diparte. 
Ne  so  ben  anco  che  di  lei  mi  creda. 


FROM  PETRARCH.  287 

Thus,  as  I  vent  my  bursting  bosom's  pain, 

Lo !  from  their  yoke  I  see  the  oxen  freed, 

Slow  moving  homeward  o'er  the  furrow'd  plain  : 

Why  to  my  sorrow  is  no  pause  decreed  ? 

Why  from  my  yoke  no  respite  must  I  know  ? 

\Vhy  gush  these  tears  and  never  cease  to  flow  ? 

Ah  me  !  what  sought  my  eyes, 

When  fixed  in  fond  surprise, 

On  her  angelic  face 

I  gazed,  and  on  my  heart  each  charm  imprest, 

From  whence,  nor  force  nor  art  the  sacred  trace 

Shall  e'er  remove,  till  I  the  victim  rest 

Of  Death,  whose  mortal  blow 
Shall  my  pure  spirit  free,  and  this  worn  frame  lay  low. 


288  TRANSLATIONS 


CANZONE. 


CHIARE,  fresche,  e  dolci  acque, 
Ove  le  belle  membra 
Pose  colei  die  sola  a  me  par  donna  ; 
Gentil  ramo,  ove  piacque 
(Con  sospir  mi  rimembra) 
A  lei  di  fare  al  bel  fianco  colonna  ; 
Erba  e  fior  che  la  gonna 
Leggiadra  ricoverse 
Con  1'angelico  seno ; 
Aer  sacro  sereno, 

Ov'Amor  co'begli  occhi  il  cor  m'aperse; 
Date  udienza  insierne 
Alle  dolenti  mie  parole  estreme. 

S'egli  e  pur  mio  destino, 
E'l  cielo  in  cio  s'adopra, 
Ch'Amor  quest'  occhi  lagrimando  cliiuda; 
Qualche  grazia  il  meschino 
Corpo  fra  voi  ricopra  ; 
E  torni  1'alma  al  proprio  albergo  ignuda. 
La  morte  fia  men  cruda, 
Se  questa  speme  porto 
A  quel  dubbioso  passo : 
Che  lo  spirito  lasso 
Non  poria  mai'n  piu  riposato  porto, 
Ne'n  piu  tranquilla  fossa 
Fuggir  la  carne  travagliata  e  1'ossa. 


FROM  PETRARCH. 


CANZONE. 


YE  waters  clear  and  fresh,  to  whose  bright  wave 
She  all  her  beauties  gave, — 
Sole  of  her  sex  in  my  impassion'd  mind! 
Thou  sacred  branch  so  graced, 
(With  sighs  e'en  now  retraced!) 
On  whose  smooth  shaft  her  heavenly  form  reclined! 
Herbage  and  flowers  that  bent  the  robe  beneath, 
Whose  graceful  folds  comprest 
Her  pure  angelic  breast ! 
Ye  airs  serene  that  breathe 

Where  Love  first  taught  me  in  her  eyes  his  lore! 
Yet  once  more  all  attest, 
The  last  sad  plaintive  lay  my  woe-worn  heart  may  pour  ! 

If  so  I  must  my  destiny  fulfil, 

And  Love  to  close  these  weeping  eyes  be  doom'd 
By  Heaven's  mysterious  will, 
Oh!  grant  that  in  this  loved  retreat,  en  tomb 'd, 
My  poor  remains  may  lie, 
And  my  freed  soul  regain  its  native  sky  ! 
Less  rude  shall  Death  appear, 
If  yet  a  hope  so  dear 
Smooth  the  dread  passage  to  eternity  ! 
No  shade  so  calm — serene, 
My  weary  spirit  finds  on  earth  below  ; 
No  grave  so  still — so  green, 

In  which  my  o'ertoil'd  frame  may  rest  from  mortal  woe! 
u 


2H9 


290  TRANSLATIONS 

Tempo  verra  ancor  forse 
Che  all'usato  soggiorno 
Torni  la  fera  bella  e  mansueta ; 
E  la  ove  mi  scorse 
Nel  benedetto  giorno 
Volga  la  vista  desiosa  e  lieta, 
Cercandomi :  ed,  oh  pieta  ! 
Gia  terra  infra  le  pietre 
Vedendo,  Amor  1'inspiri 
In  guisa  che  sospiri 
Si  dolcemente,  che  mercc  m'impetre, 
E  faccia  forza  al  cielo 
Asciugandosi  gli  occhi  col  bel  velo. 


Da'be'rami  scendea, 
Dolce  nella  memoria, 
Una  pioggia  di  fior  sovra'l  suo  grembo ; 
Ed  ella  si  sedea 
Umile  in  tanta  gloria, 
Coverta  gia  dell' amoroso  nembo  : 
Qual  fior  cadea  sul  lembo  ; 
Qual  su  le  treccie  bionde  ; 
Ch'oro  forbito  e  perle 
Eran  quel  di  a  vederle : 
Qual  si  posava  in  terra,  e  qual  su  1'onde 
Qual  con  un  vago  errore 
Girando  parea  dir  :  Qui  regna  Amore. 


FROM  PETRARCH.  291 

Yet  one  day,  haply,  she — so  heavenly  fair  ! 
So  kind  in  cruelty  ! — 

With  careless  steps  may  to  these  haunts  repair, 
And  where  her  beaming  eye 
Met  mine  in  days  so  blest, 
A  wistful  glance  may  yet  unconscious  rest, 
And  seeking  me  around, 
May  mark  among  the  stones  a  lowly  mound, 
That  speaks  of  pity  to  the  shuddering  sense ! 
Then  may  she  breathe  a  sigh, 
Of  power  to  win  me  mercy  from  above ! 
Doing  Heaven  violence, 
All-beautiful  in  tears  of  late  relenting  love! 


Still  dear  to  memory  !  when,  in  odorous  showers, 
Scattering  their  balmy  flowers, 
To  summer  airs  th'  o'ershadowing  branches  bow'd, 
The  while,  with  humble  state, 
In  all  the  pomp  of  tribute  sweets  she  sate, 
Wrapt  in  the  roseate  cloud  ! 

Now  clustering  blossoms  deck  her  vesture's  hem, 
Now  her  bright  tresses  gem, — 
(In  that  all-blissful  day, 

Like  burnish'd  gold  with  orient  pearls  inwrought,) 
Some  strew  the  turf — some  on  the  waters  float ! 
Some,  fluttering,  seem  to  say 
In  wanton  circlets  tost,  "  Here  Love  holds  sovereign  sway !' 


292  TRANSLATIONS 

Quante  volte  diss'io 
Allor  pien  di  spavento  : 
Costei  per  fermo  nacque  in  paradise. 
Cosi  carco  d'obblio 
II  divin  portamento 
E'l  volto,  e  le  parole,  e'l  dolce  riso 
M'aveano,  e  si  diviso 
Dall' imagine  vera; 
Ch'i'dicea  sospirando: 
Qui  come  venn'io,  o  quando  ? 
Credendo  esser  in  ciel,  non  la  dov'  era. 
Da  indi  in  qua  mi  piace 
Quest' erba  si,  ch'altrove  non  ho  pace. 

Se  tu  avessi  ornamenti  quant'  hai  voglia, 
Potresti  arditamente 
Uscir  del  bosco,  e  gire  infra  la  gente. 


FROM  PETRARCH.  09;} 

Oft  I  exclaim'd,  in  awful  tremor  rapt, 
"  Surely  of  heavenly  birth 
This  gracious  form  that  visits  the  low  earth  !'* 
So  in  oblivion  lapt 

Was  reason's  power,  by  the  celestial  mien, 
The  brow, — the  accents  mild — 
The  angelic  smile  serene  ! 
That  now  all  sense  of  sad  reality 
O'erborne  by  transport  wild, — 
"  Alas  !  how  came  I  here,  and  when  ?"   I  cry, — 
Deeming  my  spirit  past  into  the  sky  ! 
E'en  though  the  illusion  cease 
In  these  dear  haunts  alone,   my  tortured  heart  finds  peace. 

If  thoti  wert  graced  with  numbers  sweet,  my  song! 
To  match  thy  wish  to  please  ; 
Leaving  these  rocks  and  trees, 
Thou  boldly  might'st  go  forth,  and  dare  th' assembled  throng. 


294  TRANSLATIONS 


CANZONE. 


Di  pensier  in  pensier,  di  monte  in  monte 
Mi  guida  Amor  ;   ch'  ogni  segnato  calle 
Provo  contrario  alia  tranquilla  vita. 
Se'n  solitaria  piaggia  rivo  o  fonte, 
Se'n  fra  duo  poggi  siede  ombrosa  valle, 
Ivi  s'  acqueta  1'  alma  sbigottita ; 
E  com' Amor  la'nvita, 
Or  ride,  or  piange,  or  teme,  or  s'assictira: 
E'l  volto  che  lei  segue  ov'ella  il  mena, 
Si  turba,  e  rasserena, 
Ed  in  un  esser  picciol  tempo  dura: 
Onde  alia  vista  uom  di  tal  vita  esperto 
Diria:  questi  arde,  e  di  suo  stato  e  incerto. 

Per  alti  monti  e  per  selve  aspre  trovo 
Qualche  riposo :  ogni  abitato  loco 
E  nemico  mortal  degli  ocelli  miei. 
A  ciascun  passo  nasce  un  pensier  novo 
Delia  mia  donna  che  sovente  in  gioco 
Gira'l  tormento  ch'i'porto  per  lei: 
Ed  appena  vorrei 

Cangiar  questo  mio  viver  dolce  amaro ; 
Ch'i'dico:  Forse  ancor  ti  serva  Amore 
Ad  un  tempo  migliore: 
Forse  a  te  stesso  vile;  altrui  se'caro  : 
Ed  in  questa  trapasso  sospirando, 
Or  potrebb' csser  vcro,  or  come,  or  quando. 


FROM  PETRARCH.  296 


CANZONE. 


FROM  hill  to  hill  I  roam,  from  thought  to  thought, 
With  Love  my  guide ;   the  beaten  path  I  fly, 
For  there  in  vain  the  tranquil  life  is  sought : 
If  'mid  the  waste  well  forth  a  lonely  rill, 
Or  deep  embosom'd  a  low  valley  lie, 
In  its  calm  shade  my  trembling  heart  is  still  ; 
And  there,  if  Love  so  will, 
I  smile,  or  weep,  or  fondly  hope,  or  fear, 
While  on  my  varying  brow,  that  speaks  the  soul, 
The  wild  emotions  roll, 

Now  dark,  now  bright,  as  shifting  skies  appear; 
That  whosoe'er  has  proved  the  lover's  state 

Would  say,  He  feels  the  flame,  nor  knows  his  future  fate. 

On  mountains  high,  in  forests  drear  and  wide, 
I  find  repose,  and  from  the  throng'd  resort 
Of  man  turn  fearfully  my  eyes  aside; 
At  each  lone  step  thoughts  ever  new  arise 
Of  her  I  love,  who  oft  with  cruel  sport 
Will  mock  the  pangs  I  bear,  the  tears,  the  sighs ; 
Yet  e'en  these  ills  I  prize, 

Though  bitter,  sweet,  nor  would  they  were  removed  : 
For  my  heart  whispers  me,  Love  yet  has  power 
To  grant  a  happier  hour  : 

Perchance,  though  self-despised,  thou  yet  art  loved : 
E'en  then  my  breast  a  passing  sigh  will  heave, 
Ah!  when,  or  how,  may  I  a  hope  so  wild  believe? 


296  TRANSLATIONS 

Ove  porge  ombra  un  pino  alto,  od  un  colle 
Talor  m'arresto:  e  pur  nel  primo  sa8so 
Disegno  con  la  mente  il  suo  bel  viso. 
Poi  ch'a  me  torno,  trovo  il  petto  molle 
Delia  pietate,  ed  allor  dico :  ahi  lasso, 
Dove  se'giunto,  ed  onde  se'diviso? 
Ma  mentre  tener  fiso 
Posso  al  primo  pensier  la  mente  vaga, 
E  mirar  lei,  ed  obbliar  me  stesso; 
Sento  amor  si  da  presso, 
Che  del  suo  proprio  error  Talma  s'appaga: 
In  tante  parti,  e  si  bella  la  veggio, 
Che  se  Terror  durasse,  altro  non  cheggio. 


I'  I'ho  piu  volte  (or  chi  fia  che  mel  creda?) 
Nell'acqua  chiara,  e  sopra  1'erba  verde 
Veduta  viva,  e  nel  troncon  d'  un  faggio : 
E'n  bianca  nube  si  fatta,  che  Leda 
Avria  ben  detto  che  sua  figlia  perde: 
Come  stella  che'l  sol  copre  col  raggio: 
E  quanto  in  piu  selvaggio 
Loco  mi  trovo  e'-n  piu  deserto  lido, 
Tanto  piu  bella  il  mio  pensier  1'adombra: 
Poi  quando'l  vero  sgombra 
Quel  dolce  error,  pur  li  medesmo  assido 
Me  freddo,  pietra  morta  in  pietra  viva, 
In  guisa  d'uom  che  pensi,  e  pianga,  e  scriva. 


FROM  PETRARCH.  297 

Where  shadows  of  high  rocking  pines  dark  wave 
I  stay  my  footsteps,  and  on  some  rude  stone 
With  thought  intense  her  beauteous  face  engrave  ; 
Roused  from  the  trance,  my  bosom  bathed  I  find 
With  tears,  and  cry,  Ah,  whither  thus  alone 
Hast  thou  far  wander'd,  and  whom  left  behind  ? 
But  as  with  fixed  mind 
On  this  fair  image  I  impassion'd  rest, 
And,  viewing  her,  forget  awhile  my  ills, 
Love  my  rapt  fancy  fills  ; 
In  its  own  error  sweet  the  soul  is  blest, 
While  all  around  so  bright  the  visions  glide; 

O !  might  the  cheat  endure,  I  ask  not  aught  beside. 

Her  form  pourtray'd  within  the  lucid  stream 
Will  oft  appear,  or  on  the  verdant  lawn, 
Or  glossy  beech,  or  fleecy  cloud,  will  gleam 
So  lovely  fair,  that  Leda's  self  might  say, 
Her  Helen  sinks  eclipsed,  as  at  the  dawn 
A  star  when  cover'd  by  the  solar  ray  : 
And,  as  o'er  wilds  I  stray 

Where  the  eye  nought  but  savage  nature  meets, 
There  Fancy  most  her  brightest  tints  employs ; 
But  when  rude  truth  destroys 
The  loved  illusion  of  those  dreamed  sweets, 
I  sit  me  down  on  the  cold  rugged  stone, 

Less  cold,  less  dead  than  I,  and  think,  and  weep  alone. 


u  5 


298  TRANSLATIONS 

Ove  d'  altra  montagna  ombra  non  tocchi, 
Verso '1  maggiore  e'l  piu  spedito  giogo 
Tirar  mi  suol  un  desiderio  intense  ; 
Indi  i  miei  danni  a  misurar  cogli  occhi 
Comincio;  e'n  tan  to  lagrimando  sfogo 
Di  dolorosa  nebbia  il  cor  condenso, 
Allor  ch'i'miro  e  penso 
Quant' aria  dal  bel  viso  mi  diparte, 
Che  sempre  m^  si  presso,  e  si  lontano  : 
Poscia  fra  me  pian  piano  : 
Che  sai  tu  lasso?    forse  in  quella  parte 
Or  di  tua  lontananza  si  sospira  : 
Ed  in  questo  pensier  1'  alma  respira. 

Canzon,  oltra  quell' alpe 
La,  dove  il  cielo  e  piu  sereno  e  lieto, 
Mi  rivedrai  sovr'  un  ruscel  corrente, 
Ove  1'aura  si  sente 
D'  un  fresco  ed  odorifero  laureto  : 
Ivi  e'l  mio  cor,  e  quella  che'l  m'invola ; 
Qui  veder  puoi  1' imagine  mia  sola. 


FROM  PETRARCH.  299 

Where  the  huge  mountain  rears  his  brow  sublime, 
On  which  no  neighbouring  height  its  shadow  flings, 
Led  by  desire  intense  the  steep  I  climb; 
And  tracing  in  the  boundless  space  each  woe, 
Whose  sad  remembrance  my  torn  bosom  wrings, 
Tears,  that  bespeak  the  heart  o'erfraught,  will  flow : 
While,  viewing  all  below, 
From  me,  I  cry,  what  worlds  of  air  divide 
The  beauteous  form,  still  absent  and  still  near ! 
Then,  chiding  soft  the  tear, 
I  whisper  low,  haply  she  too  has  sigh'd 
That  thou  art  far  away :  a  thought  so  sweet 

Awhile  my  labouring  soul  will  of  its  burthen  cheat. 

Go  thou,  my  song,  beyond  that  Alpine  bound, 
Where  the  pure  smiling  heavens  are  most  serene, 
There  by  a  murmuring  stream  may  I  be  found, 
Whose  gentle  airs  around 
Waft  grateful  odours  from  the  laurel  green ; 
Nought  but  my  empty  form  roams  here  unblest, 
There  dwells  my  heart  with  her  who  steals  it  from  my  breast. 


300  TRANSLATIONS 

SONETTO. 

LA  vita  fugge  e  non  s'arresta  un'ora ; 
E  la  morte  vien  dietro  a  gran  giornate  ; 
E  le  cose  present!  e  le  passate 
Mi  danno  guerra,  e  le  future  ancora : 

E'l  rimembrar  e  1'aspettar  m'accora 
Or  quinci,  or  quindi  si,  che'n  veritate, 
Se  non  ch'i'ho  di  me  stesso  pietate, 
I'sarei  gia  di  questi  pensier  fora. 

Tornami  avanti  s'alcun  dolce  mai 

Ebbe'l  cor  tristo ;  e  poi  dall'altra  parte 
Veggio  al  mio  navigar  turbati  i  venti. 

Veggio  fortuna  in  porto,  e  stance  omai 
II  mio  nocchier,  e  rotte  arbore  e  sarte, 
E  i  lumi  bei  che  mirar  soglio,  spenti. 


SONETTO. 

ZEFIRO  torna,  e'l  bel  tempo  rimena, 
E  i  fiori  e  1'erbe,  sua  dolce  famiglia ; 
E  garrir  Progne,  e  pianger  Filomena; 
E  primavera  Candida  e  vermiglia. 

Ridono  i  prati  e  '1  ciel  si  rasserena  ; 
Giove  s'allegra  di  mirar  sua  figlia  ; 
L'aria,  e  1'acqua,  e  la  terra  e  d'amor  plena 
Ogni  animal  d'amar  si  riconsiglia. 

Ma  per  me,  lasso,  tornano  i  piu  gravi 
Sospiri  che  del  cor  profondo  tragge 
Quella  ch'al  ciel  se  ne  porto  le  chiavi  : 

E  cantar  augellctti,  e  fiorir  piagge, 
E'n  belle  donne  oneste  atti  soavi 
Sono  un  deserto,  e  fere  aspre  e  selvagge. 


FROM   IT.TRARCH. 

SONNET. 

LIFE  flies  with  rapid  course  that  nought  may  stay, 
Death  follows  after  with  gigantic  stride  ; 
Ills  past  and  present  on  my  spirit  prey, 
And  future  evils  threat  on  every  side  : 

Whether  I  backward  look  or  forward  fare, 
A  thousand  ills  my  bosom's  peace  molest ; 
And  were  it  not  that  pity  bids  me  spare 
My  nobler  part,  I  from  these  thoughts  would  rest. 

If  ever  aught  of  sweet  my  heart  has  known, 

Remembrance  wakes  its  charms,  while,  tempest  to.s 
I  mark  the  clouds  that  o'er  my  course  still  frown  ; 

E'en  in  the  port  I  see  the  storm  afar  ; 
Weary  my  pilot,  mast  and  cable  lost, 
And  set  for  ever  my  fair  polar  star. 


301 


SONNET. 

RETURNING  Zephyr  the  sweet  season  brings, 

With  flowers  and  herbs  his  breathing  train  among, 
And  Progne  twitters,  Philomela  sings, 
Leading  the  many-coloured  Spring  along ; 

Serene  the  sky,  and  fair  the  laughing  field, 

Jove  views  his  daughter  with  complacent  brow  ; 
Earth,  sea,  and  air,  to  Love's  sweet  influence  yield, 
And  creatures  all  his  magic  power  avow  : 

But  nought,  alas  !  for  me  the  season  brings, 
Save  heavier  sighs,  from  my  sad  bosom  drawn 
By  her  who  can  from  Heaven  unlock  its  springs  ; 

And  warbling  birds  and  flower-bespangled  lawn, 
And  fairest  acts  of  ladies  fair  and  mild, 
A  desert  seem,  and  its  brute  tenants  wild. 


302  TRANSLATIONS 

SONETTO. 

SE  lamentar  augelli,  o  verdi  fronde 
Mover  soavemente  all' aura  estiva, 
O  roco  mormorar  di  lucid' onde 
S'ode  d'una  fiorita  e  fresca  riva  ; 

La  v'  io  seggia  d'  amor  pensoso  e  scriva  ; 
Lei  che'l  ciel  ne  mostro,  terra  n'asconde, 
Veggio,  ed  odo,  ed  intendo  :  ch'ancor  viva 
Di  si  lontano  a'  sospir  miei  risponde. 

Deh  perche  innanzi  tempo  ti  consume  ? 
Mi  dice  con  pietate :  a  che  pur  versi 
Degli  occhi  tristi  un  doloroso  fiume  ? 

Di  me  non  pianger  tu  :  che  miei  di  fersi, 
Morendo,  eterni ;  e  nell'eterno  lume, 
Quando  mostrai  di  chiuder  gli  occhi,  apersi. 


SONETTO. 

GLI  occhi  di  ch'  io  parlai  si  caldamente ; 
E  le  braccia,  e  le  mani,  e  i  piedi,  e'l  viso 
Che  m'avean  si  da  me  stesso  diviso, 
E  fatto  singular  dall'altra  gente; 

Le  crespe  chiome  d'  or  puro  lucente, 
E  '1  lampeggiar  dell'  angelico  riso, 
Che  solean  fare  in  terra  un  paradise, 
Poca  polvere  son  che  nulla  sente  : 

Ed  io  pur  vivo  :  onde  mi  doglio  e  sdegno, 
Rimaso  senza'l  lume  ch'amai  tanto, 
In  gran  fortuna  e'n  disarmato  legno. 

Or  sia  qui  fine  al  mio  amoroso  canto  : 
Secca  £  la  vena  delPusato  ingegno, 
E  la  cetera  mia  rivolta  in  pianto. 


FROM   I'KTKARCII.  3^ 

SONNET. 

IF  the  lorn  bird  complain,  or  rustling  sweep 

Soft  summer  airs  o'er  foliage  waving  slow, 

Or  the  hoarse  brook  come  murmuring  down  the  steep, 

Where  on  the  enamel'd  bank  I  sit  below 
With  thoughts  of  love  that  bid  my  numbers  flow  ; 

'Tis  then  I  see  her,  though  in  earth  she  sleep  ! 

Her,  form'd  in  Heaven  !  I  see,  and  hear,  and  know ! 

Responsive  sighing,  weeping  as  I  weep  : 
"  Alas !"  she  pitying  says,  "  ere  yet  the  hour, 

Why  hurry  life  away  with  swifter  flight? 

Why  from  thy  eyes  this  flood  of  sorrow  pour  ? 
No  longer  mourn  my  fate !  through  death  my  days 

Become  eternal !  to  eternal  light 

These  eyes  which  seem'd  in  darkness  closed,  I  raise!" 


SONNET. 

THE  eyes,  the  face,  the  limbs  of  heavenly  mould, 
So  long  the  theme  of  my  impassion'd  lay, 
Charms  which  so  stole  me  from  myself  away, 
That  strange  to  other  men  the  course  I  hold  : 

The  crisped  locks  of  pure  and  lucid  gold, 
The  lightning  of  the  angelic  smile,  whose  ray 
To  earth  could  all  of  Paradise  convey, 
A  little  dust  are  now ! — to  feeling  cold  ! 

And  yet  I  live ! — but  that  I  live  bewail, 

Sunk  the  loved  light  that  through  the  tempest  led 
My  shatter 'd  bark,  bereft  of  mast  and  sail : 

Hush'd  be  the  song  that  breathed  love's  purest  fire ! 
Lost  is  the  theme  on  which  my  fancy  fed, 
And  turned  to  mourning  my  once  tuneful  lyre. 


304  TRANSLATIONS 

SONETTO. 

MENTE  mia,  che  presaga  de'tuoi  danni 
Al  tempo  lieto  gia  pensosa  e  trista 
Si  intentamente  nell'  ainata  vista 
Requie  cercavi  de'futuri  affanni; 

Agli  atti,  alle  parole,  al  viso,  ai  panrii, 
Alia  nova  pieta  con  dolor  mista, 
Potei  ben  dir,  se  del  tutto  eri  avvista: 
Questo  e  1' ultimo  di  de'miei  dolci  anni. 

Qual  dolcezza  fu  quella,  o  miser' alma, 
Come  ardevano  in  quel  punto  ch'i'vidi 
Gli  occhi  i  quai  non  devea  riveder  mai ! 

Quando  a  lor,  come  a  duo  amici  piu  fidi, 
Partendo,  in  guardia  la  piu  nobil  sal  ma, 
I  miei  cari  pensieri  e'l  cor  lasciai. 


SONETTO. 

TUTTA  la  mia  fiorita  e  verde  etade 
Passava;  e'ntepidir  sentia  gia'l  foco 
Ch'arse'l  mio  cor;  ed  era  giunto  al  loco 
Ove  scen'de  la  vita  ch'al  fin  cade. 

Gia  incominciava  a  prender  securtade 
La  mia  cara  nemica  a  poco  a  poco 
De'suoi  sospetti  ;   e  rivolgeva  in  gioco 
Mie  pene  acerbe  sua  dolce  onestade. 

Presso  era'l  tempo  dov'  Amor  si  scontra 
Con  Castitate;  ed  agli  amanti  e  dato 
Sedersi  insieme,  e  dir  che  lor  incontra. 

Morte  ebbe  invidia  al  mio  felice  stato ; 
Anzi  alia  speme ;  e  feglisi  all'  incontra 
A  mezza  via,  come  nemico  armato. 


FROM  PETRARCH. 

SONNET. 

MY  mind!  prophetic  of  my  coming  fate, 

Pensive  and  gloomy  while  yet  joy  was  lent, 
On  the  loved  lineaments  still  fix'd,  intent 
To  seek  dark  bodings,  ere  thy  sorrow's  date ! 

From  her  sweet  acts,  her  words,  her  looks,  her  gait, 
From  her  unwonted  pity  with  sadness  blent, 
Thou  might'st  have  said,  hadst  thou  been  prescient, 
"  I  taste  my  last  of  bliss  in  this  low  state ! " 

My  wretched  soul!  the  poison,  oh,  how  sweet! 
That  through  my  eyes  instill'd  the  burning  smart, 
Gazing  on  hers,  no  more  on  earth  to  meet! 

To  them — my  bosom's  wealth!   condemn'd  to  part 
On  a  far  journey — as  to  friends  discreet, 
All  my  fond  thoughts  I  left,  and  lingering  heart. 


SONNET. 

ALL  my  green  years  and  golden  prime  of  man 
Had  pass'd  away,  and  with  attemper'd  sighs 
My  bosom  heaved — ere  yet  the  days  arise 
When  life  declines,  contracting  its  brief  span. 

Already  my  loved  enemy  began 

To  lull  suspicion,  and  in  sportive  guise, 
With  timid  confidence,  though  playful,  wise, 
In  gentle  mockery  my  long  pains  to  scan  : 

The  hour  was  near  when  Love,  at  length,  may  mate 
With  Chastity ;  and,  by  the  dear  one's  side, 
The  lover's  thoughts,  and  words,  may  freely  flow : 

Death  saw,  with  envy,  my  too  happy  state, 
E'en  its  fair  promise — and,  with  fatal  pride, 
Strode  in  the  mid- way  forth,  an  armed  foe! 


306  TRANSLATIONS 

SONETTO. 

NE  mai  pietosa  madre  al  caro  figlio, 
Ne  donna  accesa  al  suo  sposo  dilctto 
Die  con  tanti  sospir,  con  tal  sospetto 
In  dubbio  stato  si  fedel  consiglio  ; 

Come  a  me  quella  che'l  mio  grave  esiglio 
Mirando  dal  suo  eterno  alto  ricetto, 
Spesso  a  me  torna  con  1'  usato  affetto, 
E  di  doppia  pietate  ornata  il  ciglio, 

Or  di  madre,  or  d'amante:  or  teme,  or  arde 
D'onesto  foco;  e  nel  parlar  mi  mostra 
Quel  che'n  questo  viaggio  fugga,  o  segua, 

Contando  i  casi  della  vita  nostra ; 

Pregando  ch'al  levar  1'alma  non  tarde: 
E  sol  quant' ella  parla  ho  pace,  o  trcgua. 


SONETTO. 

NE  per  sereno  ciel  ir  vaghe  stelle; 

Ne  per  tranquillo  mar  legni  spalmati ; 

Ne  per  campagne  cavalieri  armati; 

Ne  per  bei  boschi  allegre  fere  e  snelle; 
Ne  d'  aspettato  ben  frescbe  novelle ; 

Ne  dir  d'amore  in  stili  alti  ed  ornati; 

Ne  tra  chiare  fontane  e  verdi  prati 

Dolce  cantare  oneste  donne  e  belle; 
Ne  altro  sara  mai  ch'  al  cor  m'  aggiunga  ; 

Si  seco  il  seppe  quella  scppellire, 

Che  sola  agli  occhi  miei  fu  lume  e  speglio. 
Noia  m'  e'l  viver  si  gravosa  e  lunga, 

Ch'  i'  chiamo  il  fine  per  lo  gran  desire 

Di  riveder  cui  non  veder  fu'l  meglio. 


FKOM    I'KTKAKCH. 

SONNET. 

NE'ER  to  the  son,  in  whom  her  age  is  blest, 
The  anxious  mother — nor  to  her  loved  lord 
The  wedded  dame,  impending  ill  to  ward, 
With  careful  sighs  so  faithful  counsel  prest, 

As  she,  who,  from  her  high  eternal  rest, 

Bending — as  though  my  exile  she  deplored — 
With  all  her  wonted  tenderness  restored, 
And  softer  pity  on  her  brow  imprest! 

Now  with  a  mother's  fears,  and  now  as  one 
Who  loves  with  chaste  affection,  in  her  speech 
She  points  what  to  pursue,  and  what  to  shun! 

Our  years  retracing  of  long,  various  grief, 
Wooing  my  soul  at  higher  good  to  reach, 
And  while  she  speaks,  my  bosom  finds  relief! 


SONNET. 

NOT  skies  serene,  with  glittering  stars  inlaid, 
Nor  gallant  ships  o'er  tranquil  ocean  dancing, 
Nor  gay  careering  knights  in  arms  advancing, 
Nor  wild  herds  bounding  through  the  forest  glade, 

Nor  tidings  new  of  happiness  delay'd, 
Nor  poesie,  Love's  witchery  enhancing, 
Nor  lady's  song  beside  clear  fountain  glancing, 
In  beauty's  pride,  with  chastity  array 'd  ; 

Nor  aught  of  lovely,  aught  of  gay  in  show, 

Shall  touch  my  heart,  now  cold  within  her  tomb 
Who  was  erewhile  my  life  and  light  below! 

So  heavy — tedious — sad — my  days  unblest, 

That  I,  with  strong  desire,  invoke  Death's  gloom, 
Her  to  behold,  whom  ne'er  to  have  seen  were  best ! 


308  TRANSLATIONS 

ALTHOUGH  not  eminent  in  the  magnificence  of  imagery, 
the  sublimity  and  vehemence  required  for  Lyric  poetry,  the 
first  of  the  two  following  political  odes  is  nevertheless  an 
unequalled  model  of  perfection.  The  language  is  lofty, 
without  ambition,  and  scrupulously  elegant  without  the  least 
shadow  of  affectation.  The  lines  and  sentences  flow  so  har 
moniously  into  each  other,  that  a  series  of  musical  tones 
issue  spontaneously  from  them,  and  run  through  the  whole 
of  each  stanza.  The  patriotism,  magnanimity,  and  piety, 
which  they  breathe,  are  fraught  with  spirit  and  pathos,  and 
yet  dignified  with  a  statesman-like  gravity,  as  if  the  opposite 
elements  of  enthusiasm  and  wisdom  were  happily  allied  in 
the  mind  of  the  poet.  There  is  now  and  then  some  obscu 
rity;  but  this  is  inevitable  in  a  species  of  composition  in 
which  allusions  to  passing  events  ought  less  to  be  described 
than  shadowed  forth  with  rapidity.  Petrarch,  moreover, 
while  boldly  exclaiming  against  the  policy  of  living  sove 
reigns,  was  compelled  to  preserve  some  regard,  in  his  ex 
pressions  at  least,  for  their  dignity.  The  rights  of  the  Em 
perors  over  Italy  were  the  ostensible  pretexts  of  the  conti 
nued  civil  wars  by  which  their  lieutenants,  in  the  different 
provinces,  ravaged  their  country ;  while  in  reality  each  of 
them  endeavoured  to  usurp  the  states  of  his  neighbours,  and 
acquire  by  his  conquests  the  power  necessary  to  become 
wholly  independent  of  the  empire.  Lewis  the  Bavarian, 
though  acknowledged  King  of  the  Romans  and  successor  of 
the  Caesars  in  Italy,  was  absent,  poor,  and  without  a  military 
force  to  reduce  to  obedience  these  self-constituted  princes, 
whose  government  had  already  become  hereditary.  He  then 
sold  his  protection  and  a  few  hundred  of  soldiers,  sometimes 
to  one  and  sometimes  to  another  of  the  combatants ;  and 
faithless  alike  to  all,  he  generally  abandoned  the  conquered 
for  the  conquerors,  that  he  might  partake  with  them  the 
spoils  of  the  Italians.  Hence  the  rather  enigmatical  allu 
sion  to  "  Bavaria's  perfidy  "  and  the  exhortation — 


FROM  PETRARCH.  309 

"  Yet  give  one  hour  to  thought, 

And  ye  shall  own,  how  little  HE  can  hold 

Another's  glory  dear,  who  sets  HIS  OWN  at  nought. 

Oh!  Latin  blood  of  old! 

Arise,  and  wrest  from  obloquy  thy  fame, 

Nor  bow  before  a  NAME 

Of  hollow  sound — " 

To  make  such  allusions  apparent  was  not  the  least  of 
those  many  difficulties  which  have  been  mastered  by  the 
noble  Lady,  to  whom  Petrarch  is  indebted  for  the  most 
beautiful  translation  of  the  most  beautiful  of  his  political 
effusions. 

The  second  of  these  odes  seems  to  have  been  composed 
in  the  year  1333,  when  a  new  crusade  was  in  contemplation 
for  the  recovery  of  the  Holy  Land ;  a  project  which  was 
afterwards  renewed  frequently  during  two.  centuries,  until 
the  days  of  Tasso,  and  which  was  also  one  of  the  causes 
which  rendered  the  "  Jerusalem  Delivered "  the  popular 
poem  of  Europe.  Yet  it  does  not  appear  that  even  in  the 
age  of  Petrarch  any  prince  entertained  serious  thoughts  of 
undertaking  such  an  expedition ;  indeed  the  hero  whom 
he  addresses  with  so  much  confidence,  and  whose  name  it 
is  impossible  to  divine,  is  praised  more  for  his  wisdom,  his 
eloquence,  and  rank,  than  for  any  spirit  of  enterprise  or 
military  renown.  The  poet  was  then  but  twenty-nine  years 
of  age,  and  the  lameness  and  declamatory  tone  in  which 
this  ode  is  composed,  is  but  a  farther  proof  of  a  remark 
already  made — that  the  perfection  of  his  poetry  was  the 
gradual  result  of  long  study  and  frequent  failure  in  experi 
ment.  If  this  ode,  in  English,  appear  above  mediocrity,  it 
is  owing  to  a  young  lady,  who,  interesting  herself,  like  all 
ladies,  in  whatever  concerns  the  constant  lover  of  Laura, 
has  devoted  her  talents  to  the  support  even  of  his  political 
opinions. 


;ji0  TRANSLATIONS 


CANZONE. 

ITALIA  mia ;   benche'l  parlar  sia  indarno 
Alle  piaghe  mortali 

Che  nel  bel  corpo  tuo  si  spesse  veggio ; 
Piacemi  alinen  che  i  niiei  sospir  sien  quali 
Spera'l  Tevere,  e  1'Arno, 
E'l  Po,  dove  doglioso  e  grave  or  seggio. 
Rettor  del  ciel,  io  cheggio 
Che  la  pieta  che  ti  condusse  in  terra, 
Ti  volga  al  tuo  diletto  almo  paese : 
Vedi  Signer  cortese, 
Di  che  lievi  cagion  che  crudel  guerra 
E  i  cor  che'ndura  e  serva 
Marte  snperbo  e  fero, 
Apri  tu,  Padre,  e'ntenerisei  e  snoda  : 
Ivi  fa  che'l  tuo  vero 
(Quol  io  mi  sia)  per  la  mia  lingua  s'oda. 

Voi  cui  Fortuna  ha  posto  in  mano  il  fren< 
Delle  belle  contrade, 
Di  che  nulla  pieta  par  che  vi  stringa : 
Che  fan  qui  tante  pellegrine  spade  ? 
Perche'l  verde  terreno 
Del  barbarico  sangue  si  dipinga  ? 
Vano  error  vi  lusinga  : 
Poco  vedete,  e  parvi  veder  molto  : 
Che'n  cor  venale  amor  cercate,  o  fede. 
Qual  piu  gente  possiede, 


FROM  I'KTRARCH. 


CANZONE. 

OH  !  my  own  Italy!  though  words  are  vain 
The  mortal  wounds  to  close, 
Unnumber'd,  that  thy  beauteous  bosom  stain, 
Yet  may  it  soothe  my  pain 
To  sigh  forth  Tyber's  woes, 
And  Arno's  wrongs,  as  on  Po's  sadden'd  shore 
Sorrowing  I  wander,  and  my  numbers  pour. 
Ruler  of  Heaven !     By  the  all-pitying  love 
That  could  thy  Godhead  move 
To  dwell  a  lowly  sojourner  on  earth, 
Turn,  Lord !  on  this  thy  chosen  land  thine  eye  : 
See,  God  of  Charity  ! 

From  what  light  cause  this  cruel  war  has  birth  ; 
And  the  hard  hearts  by  savage  discord  steel'd, 
Thou,  Father  !  from  on  high, 
Touch  by  my  humble  voice,  that  stubborn  wrath  may  yield ! 

Ye,  to  whose  sov'reign  hands  the  fates  confide, 

Of  this  fair  land  the  reins, — 

(This  land  for  which  no  pity  wrings  your  breast) — 

Why  does  the  stranger's  sword  her  plains  infest  ? 

That  her  green  fields  be  dyed, 

Hope  ye,  with  blood  from  the  Barbarians'  veins  ? 

Beguiled  by  error  weak, 

Ye  see  not,  though  to  pierce  so  deep  ye  boast, 

Who  love,  or  faith,  in  venal  bosoms  seek  : 

When  throng'd  your  standards  most, 


112  TRANSLATIONS 

Colui  c1"  piu  da'suoi  nemici  avvolto. 

O  diluvio  raccolto 

Di  che  deserti  strani 

Per  inondare  i  nostri  dolci  campi ! 

Se  dalle  proprie  mani 

Questo  n'avvien,  or  chi  fia  che  ne  scampi  ? 

Ben  provvide  Natura  al  nostro  stato 
Quando  dell'alpi  schermo 
Pose  fra  noi  e  la  Tedesca  rabbia  : 
Ma'l  desir  cieco,  e'ncontra'l  suo  ben  fermo 
S'e  poi  tanto  ingegnato 
Ch'  al  corpo  sano  ha  proeurato  scabbia. 
Or  dentro  ad  una  gabbia 
Fere  selvagge  e  mansuete  gregge 
S'  annidan  si,  che  sempre  il  miglior  geme : 
Ed  e  questo  del  seme, 
Per  pid  dolor,  del  popol  senza  legge, 
Al  qual,  come  si  legge, 
Mario  aperse  si'l  fiance, 
Che  memoria  dell'opra  anco  non  langue  ; 
Quando  assetato  e  stanco 
Non  piv)  bevve  del  fiume  acqua,  che  sangue. 

Cesare  taccio,  che  per  ogni  piaggia 
Fece  1'erbe  sanguigne 
Di  lor  vene  ove'l  nostro  ferro  mise. 
Or  par,  non  so  per  che  stelle  maligne, 
Che'l  cielo  in  odio  n'aggia, 
Vostra  merce,  cui  tanto  si  commise. 
Vostre  voglie  divise 
Guastan  del  mondo  la  piu  bella  parte. 


FROM  PETRARCH.  313 

Ye  are  encompass'd  most  by  hostile  bands. 
O  hideous  deluge  gather'd  in  strange  lands, 
That  rushing  down  amain 
O'erwhelms  our  every  native  lovely  plain ! 
Alas  !  if  our  own  hands 
Have  thus  our  weal  betrayed,  who  shall  our  cause   sustain  ? 

Well  did  kind  Nature,  guardian  of  our  state, 
Rear  her  rude  alpine  heights, 
A  lofty  rampart  against  German  hate  ; 
But  blind  ambition,  seeking  his  own  ill, 
With  ever  restless  will, 
To  the  pure  gales  contagion  foul  invites  : 
Within  the  same  strait  fold 
The  gentle  flocks  and  wolves  relentless  throng, 
Where  still  meek  innocence  must  suffer  wrong  : 
And  these, — Oh,  shame  avow'd! — 
Are  of  the  lawless  hordes  no  tie  can  hold  : 
Fame  tells  how  Marius'  sword 
Erewhile  thoir  bosoms  gored, — 

Nor  has  Time's  hand  aught  blurr'd  the  record  proud  ! 

When  they  who,  thirsting,  stoop'd  to  quaff  the  flood, 

With  the  cool  waters  mix'd,  drank  of  a  comrade's  blood ! 

Great  Caesar's  name  I  pass,  who  o'er  our  plains 

Pour'd  forth  the  ensanguined  tide, 

Drawn  by  our  own  good  swords  from  out  their  veins  ; 

But  now — nor  know  I  what  ill  stars  preside, — 

Heaven  holds  this  land  in  hate  ! 

To  you  the  thanks  ! — whose  hands  control  her  helm  ! — - 

You,  whose  rash  feuds  despoil 

Of  all  the  beauteous  earth  the  fairest  realm! 


x5 


314  TRANSLATIONS 

Qual  colpa,  qual  giudizio,  o  qual  destino, 

Fastidire  il  vicino 

Povero,  e  le  fortune  afflitte  e  sparte 

Perseguire,  e  'n  disparte 

Cercar  gente,  c  gradire 

Che  sparga'l  sangue  e  venda  1'alraa  a  prezzo  ? 

lo  parlo  per  ver  dire 

Non  per  odio  d'altrui,  ne  per  disprezzo. 

Ne  v'accorgete  ancor  per  tante  prove 
Del  Bavarico  inganno, 
Ch'  alzando  '1  dito  con  la  morte  scherza  ? 
Peggio  e  lo  strazio,  al  mio  parer,  che  '1  danno ; 
Ma'l  vostro  sangue  piove 
Piu  largamente,  ch'  altra  ira  vi  sferza. 
Dalla  mattina  a  terza 
Di  voi  pensate,  e  vederete  come 
Tien  caro  altrui  chi  tien  se  cosi  vile. 
Latin  sangue  gentile, 
Sgombra  da  te  queste  dannose  some  : 
Non  far  idolo  un  nome 
Vano  senza  soggetto  : 
Che  '1  furor  di  lassu,  gente  ritrosa 
Vincerne  d'intelletto, 
Peccato  c  nostro,  e  non  natural  cosa. 

Non  e  questo  il  terren  ch'  i'  toccai  pria  ? 
Non  e  questo '1  mio  nido 
Ove  nutrito  fui  si  dolcemente  ? 
Non  e  questa  la  patria  in  ch'  io  mi  fido, 
Madre  benigna  e  pia, 
Che  copre  1'uno  e  1'altro  mio  parente  ? 
Per  Dio,  questo  la  mente 
Talor  vi  mova  ;  e  con  pieta  guardate 


FROM  IM;TKAK<JH.  ^ 

Are  ye  impell'd  by  judgment,  crime,  or  fate, 
To  oppress  the  desolate? 

From  broken  fortunes,  and  from  humble  toil, 
The  hard-earn'd  dole  to  wring, 
While  from  afar  ye  bring 

Dealers  in  blood,  bartering  their  souls  for  hire  ? 
In  truth's  great  cause  I  sing, 
Nor  hatred  nor  disdain  my  earnest  lay  inspire. 

Nor  mark  ye  yet,  confirm'd  by  proof  on  proof, 
Bavaria's  perfidy, 

Who  strikes  in  mockery,  keeping  death  aloof? 
(Shame,  worse  than  aught  of  loss,  in  honour's  eye  !) 
While  ye,  with  honest  rage,  devoted  pour 
Your  inmost  bosom's  gore  ! — 
Yet  give  one  hour  to  thought, 
And  ye  shall  own,  how  little  he  can  hold 
Another's  glory  dear,  who  sets  his  own  at  nought. 
Oh  !  Latin  blood  of  old  ! 
Arise,  and  wrest  from  obloquy  thy  fame, 
Nor  bow  before  a  name 

Of  hollow  sound,  whose  power  no  laws  enforce  ! 
For  if  barbarians  rude 
Have  higher  minds  subdued, 
Ours  !  ours  the  crime  ! — not  such  wise  Nature's  course. 

Ah  !  is  not  this  the  soil  my  foot  first  press'd  ? 

And  here,  in  cradled  rest, 

Was  I  not  softly  hush'd  ?— here  fondly  rear'd  ? 

Ah  !  is  not  this  my  Country  ?  —  so  endear 'd 

By  every  filial  tie  ! 

In  whose  lap  shrouded  both  my  parents  lie  ! 

Oh  !  by  this  tender  thought, 

Your  torpid  bosoms  to  compassion  wrought, 


316  TRANSLATIONS 

Le  lagrime  del  popol  doloroso, 

Che  sol  da  voi  riposo 

Dopo  Dio  spera :  e  pur  che  voi  mostriate 

Segno  alcun  di  pietate, 

Virtu  contra  furore 

Prendera  1'arme  ;  e  fia'l  combatter  corto  : 

Che  1'antico  valore 

Ne  gl'  Italici  cor  non  e  ancor  morto. 

Signor,  mirate  come'l  tempo  vola, 
E  siccome  la  vita 

Fugge,  e  la  morte  n'e  sovra  le  spalle. 
Voi  siete  or  qui ;  pensate  alia  partita  : 
Convien  ch' arrive  a  quel  dubbioso  calle. 
Al  passar  questa  valle 
Piacciavi  porre  giu  1'odio  e  lo  sdegno, 
Venti  contrari  alia  vita  serena: 
E  quel  che'n  altrui  pena 
Tempo  si  spende,  in  qualche  atto  piu  degno 
O  di  mano,  o  d'  ingegno, 
In  qualche  bella  lode, 
In  qualche  onesto  studio  si  converta  : 
Cosi  quaggiu  si  gode, 
E  la  strada  del  ciel  si  trova  aperta. 

Canzone,  io  t'ammonisco 
Che  tua  ragion  cortesemente  dica  ; 
Perche  fra  gente  altera  ir  ti  conviene  : 
E  le  voglie  son  piene 
Gia  dell'usanza  pessima  ed  antica, 
Del  ver  sempre  nemica. 
Proverai  tua  ventura 
Fra  magnanimi  pochi  a  chi'l  ben  piace: 
Di'  lor :  Chi  m'  assicura  ? 
I'vo  gridando  :  Pace,  pace,  pace. 


FROM  PETRARCH.  317 

Look  on  the  people's  grief! 
Who,  after  God,  of  you  expect  relief  ; 
And  if  ye  but  relent, 

Virtue  shall  rouse  her  in  embattled  might, 
Against  blind  fury  bent, 

Nor  long  shall  doubtful  hang  the  unequal  tight ; 
For  no, — the  ancient  flame 
Is  not  extinguished  yet,  that  raised  th' Italian  name  ! 

Mark,  sov'reign  Lords!   how  Time,  with  pinion  strong, 
Swift  hurries  life  along! 

E'en  now,  behold  !   Death  presses  on  the  rear. 
We  sojourn  here  a  day — the  next,  are  gone! 
The  soul  disrobed — alone, 

Must  shuddering  seek  the  doubtful  pass  we  fear. 
Oh !  at  the  dreaded  bourne, 
Abase  the  lofty  brow  of  wrath  and  scorn, 
(Storms  adverse  to  the  eternal  calm  on  high!) 
And  ye,  whose  cruelty 
Has  sought  another's  harm,  by  fairer  deed 
Of  heart,  or  hand,  or  intellect,  aspire 
To  win  the  honest  meed 
Of  just  renown — the  noble  mind's  desire! 
Thus  sweet  on  earth  the  stay ! 
Thus  to  the  spirit  pure,  unbarr'd  is  Heaven's  way! 

My  song  !  with  courtesy,  and  numbers  sooth, 
Thy  daring  reasons  grace, 
For  thou,  the  mighty,  in  their  pride  of  place, 
Must  woo  to  gentle  ruth, 
Whose  haughty  will  long  evil  customs  nurse, 
Ever  to  truth  averse  ! 
Thee  better  fortunes  wait, 
Among  the  virtuous  few — the  truly  great ! 
Tell  them — but  who  shall  bid  my  terrors  cease  ? 
Peace!  Peace  !  on  thee  I  call !  return,  oh !  Heav'n-born  Peace  ! 
x? 


318  TRANSLATIONS 


CANZONE. 

O  ASPETTATA  in  ciel,  beata  e  bella 
Anima,  die  di  nostra  umanitade 
Vestita  vai,  non,  come  1'altre,  carca ; 
Perchb  ti  sian  men  dure  ormai  le  strade, 
A  Dio  diletta  obbediente  ancella, 
Onde  al  suo  regno  di  qua  giii  si  varca: 
Ecco  novellamente  alia  tua  barca, 
Ch'  al  cieco  mondo  ha  gia  volte  le  spalle 
Per  gir  a  miglior  porto, 
D'  un  vento  occidental  dolce  conforto  ; 
Lo  qual  per  mezzo  questa  oscura  valle, 
Ove  piangiamo  il  nostro  e  1'altrui  torto, 
La  condurra  de'  lacci  antichi  sciolta, 
Per  drittissimo  calle, 
Al  verace  oriente  ov'  ella  e  volta. 

Forse  i  devoti  e  gli  amorosi  preghi 
E  le  lagrime  sante  de'  mortali 
Son  giunte  innanzi  alia  pieta  superna  : 
E  forse  non  fur  mai  tante,  ne  tali, 
Che  per  merito  lor  punto  si  pieghi 
Fuor  di  suo  corso  la  giustizia  eterna : 
Ma  quel  benigno  Re  che'l  ciel  governa 
Al  sacro  loco  ove  fu  posto  in  croce 
Gli  occhi  per  grazia  gira; 
Onde  nel  petto  al  nuovo  Carlo  spira 
La  vendetta  che  a  noi  tardata  noce, 
Si  che  molt'anni  Europa  ne  sospira  : 
Cosi  soccorre  alia  sua  amata  sposa, 
Tal  che  sol  della  voce 
Fa  tremar  Babilonia  e  star  pcnsosa. 


FROM   PETKAKCH.  319 


TRANSLATION,  BY  MISS  *  *  *. 

OH  !  spirit  wish'd  and  waited  for  in  heaven, 
That  wearest  gracefully  our  human  clay, 
Not  as  with  loading  sin  and  earthly  stain, 
Who  lov'st  our  Lord's  high  bidding  to  obey, — 
Henceforth  to  thee  the  way  is  plain  and  even 
By  which  from  hence  to  bliss  we  may  attain. 
To  waft  o'er  yonder  main 
Thy  bark,  that  bids  the  world  adieu  for  aye 
To  seek  a  better  strand, 

The  western  winds  their  ready  wings  expand ; 
Which,  through  the  dangers  of  that  dusky  way, 
Where  all  deplore  the  first  infringed  command, 
Will  guide  her  safe,  from  primal  bondage  free, 
Reckless  of  stop  or  stay, 
To  that  true  East,  where  she  desires  to  be. 

Haply  the  faithful  vows,  and  zealous  prayers, 
And  pious  tears  by  holy  mortals  shed, 
Have  come  before  the  mercy-seat  above : 
Yet  vows  of  ours  but  little  can  bestead, 
Nor  human  orison  such  merit  bears 
As  heavenly  justice  from  its  course  can  move. 
But  He,  the  King  whom  angels  serve  and  love, 
His  gracious  eyes  hath  turn'd  upon  the  land 
Where  on  the  cross  He  died  ; 
And  a  new  Charlemagne  hath  qualified 
To  work  the  vengeance  that  on  high  was  plann'd, 
For  whose  delay  so  long  hath  Europe  sigh'd. 
Such  mighty  aid  He  brings  his  faithful  spouse, 
That  at  its  sound  the  pride 
Of  Babylon  with  trembling  terror  bows. 


320  TRANSLATIONS 

Chiunque  alberga  tra  Garonna  e'l  monte, 
E'ntra'l  Rodano  e'l  Reno  e  1'onde  salse, 
Le  insegne  cristianissime  accompagna 
Ed  a  cui  mai  di  vero  pregio  calse 
Dal  Pireneo  all' ultimo  orrizzonte 
Con  Aragon  lassera  vota  Ispagna : 
Inghilterra  con  1'isole  che  bagna 
L'Oceano  intra'l  Carro  e  le  Colonne, 
Infin  la  dove  sona 
Dottrina  del  santissimo  Elicona, 
Varie  di  lingue  e  d'arme  e  delle  gonne 
All'alta  impresa  caritate  sprona. 
Deli  qual  amor  si  licito,  o  si  degno, 
Qua'  figli  mai,  quai  donne 
Furon  materia  a  si  giusto  disdegno? 

Una  parte  del  mondo  e  che  si  giace 
Mai  sempre  in  ghiaccio  ed  in  gelate  nevi 
Tutta  lontana  dal  cammin  del  sole : 
La  sotto  i  giorni  nubilosi  e  brevi 
Nemica  naturalmente  di  pace 
Nasce  una  gente  a  cui  il  morir  non  dole. 
Questa,  se  piu  devota  che  non  sole, 
Col  Tedesco  furor  la  spada  cigne, 
Turchi,  Arabi,  e  Caldei, 
Con  tutti  que'  che  speran  negli  Dei 
Di  qua  dal  mar  che  fa  1'onde  sanguigne, 
Quanto  sian  da  prezzar  conoscer  dei : 
Popolo  ignudo  paventoso  e  lento, 
Che  ferro  mai  non  strigne, 
Ma  tutti  i  colpi  suoi  commette  al  vento. 

Dunque  ora  e  '1  tempo  da  ritrarre  il  collo 
Dal  giogo  antico,  e  da  squarciare  il  velo, 


FROM  PETRARCH.  32 J 

All  dwellers  'twixt  the  hills  and  wild  Garonne, 
The  Rhodanus,  and  Rhine,  and  briny  wave, 
Are  handed  under  red-cross  banners  brave; 
And  all  who  honour'd  guerdon  fain  would  have 
From  Pyrenees  to  the  utmost  west,  are  gone 
Leaving  Iberia  lorn  of  warriors  keen. 
And  Britain,  with  the  islands  that  are  seen 
Between  the  columns  and  the  starry  wain, 
(Even  to  that  land  where  shone 
The  far-famed  lore  of  sacred  Helicon,) 
Diverse  in  language,  weapon,  garb  and  strain, 
Of  valour  true,  with  pious  zeal  rush  on. 
What  cause,  what  love,  to  this  compared  may  be? 
What  spouse.,  or  infant  train 
E'er  kindled  such  a  righteous  enmity? 

There  is  a  portion  of  the  world  that  lies 
Far  distant  from  the  sun's  all-cheering  ray, 
For  ever  wrapt  in  ice  and  gelid  snows ; 
There  under  cloudy  skies,  in  stinted  day, 
A  people  dwell,  whose  heart  their  clime  outvies; 
By  nature  fram'd  stern  foemcn  of  repose. 
Now  new  devotion  in  their  bosom  glows, 
With  Gothic  fury  now  they  grasp  the  sword. 
Turk,  Arab,  and  Chaidee, 
With  all  between  us  and  that  sanguine  sea, 
Who  trust  in  idol-gods,  and  slight  the  Lord, 
Thou  know'st  how  soon  their  feeble  strength  would  yield  ; 
A  naked  race,  fearful  and  indolent, 
Unused  the  brand  to  wield, 
Whose  distant  aim  upon  the  wind  is  sent. 

Now  is  the  time  to  shake  the  ancient  yoke 
From  off  our  necks,  and  rend  the  veil  aside 
Y 


322  TRANSLATIONS 

Ch'e  stato  avvolto  intorno  agli  occhi  nostri; 

E  che'l  nobile  ingegno,  che  dal  cielo 

Per  grazia  tien'  dcll'immortale  Apollo, 

E  1'eloquenza  sua  virtu  qui  mostri 

Or  con  la  lingua,  or  con  laudati  inchiostri : 

Perche  d'Orfeo  leggendo,  e  d'Anfione, 

Se  non  ti  maravigli, 

Assai  men  fia  ch' Italia  co'suoi  figli 

Si  desti  al  suon  del  tuo  chiaro  sermone 

Tanto  che  per  Gesu  la  lancia  pigli : 

Che,  s'  al  ver  mira  questa  antica  madre, 

In  nulla  suatenzone 

Fur  mai  cagion  si  belle  o  si  leggiadre. 

Tu  ch'hai  per  arricchir  d'un  bel  tesauro, 
Volte  le  antiche  e  le  moderne  carte, 
Volando  al  ciel  con  la  terrena  soma, 
Sai,  dall'imperio  del  figliuol  di  Marte 
Al  grande  Augusto  che  di  verde  lauro 
Tre  volte  trionfando  orno  la  chioma, 
Nell'altrui  ingiurie  del  suo  sangue  Roma 
Spesse  fi'ate  quanto  fu  cortese; 
Ed  or  perche  non  fia 
Cortese  no,  ma  conoscente  e  pia 
A  vendicar  le  dispietate  offese 
Del  figliuol  glorioso  di  Maria  ? 
Che  dunque  la  nemica  parte  spera 
NeH'umane  difese, 
Se  Cristo  sta  dalla  contraria  schiera? 

Pon  mente  al  temerario  ardir  di  Serse, 
Che  fece  per  calcar  i  nostri  liti 
Di  nuovi  ponti  oltraggio  alia  marina ; 
E  vedrai  nella  morte  de'  mariti 


FROM  PETRARCH. 

That  long  in  darkness  hath  involved  our  eyes; 

Let  all  whom  heaven  with  genius  hath  supplied, 

And  all  who  great  Apollo's  name  invoke, 

With  fiery  eloquence  point  out  the  prize, 

With  tongue  and  pen  call  on  the  brave  to  rise. 

If  Orpheus  and  Amphion,  legends  old, 

No  marvel  cause  in  thee, 

It  were  small  wonder  if  Ausonia  sec 

Collecting  at  thy  call  her  children  bold, 

Lifting  the  spear  for  Jesus  joyfully. 

Nor,  if  our  ancient  mother  judge  aright, 

Doth  her  rich  page  unfold 

Such  noble  cause  in  any  former  fight. 

Thou  who  hast  scann'd,  to  heap  a  treasure  fair, 
Story  of  ancient  day  and  modern  time, 
Soaring  with  earthly  frame  to  heaven  sublime, 
Thou  know'st,  from  Mars'  bold  son,  her  ruler  prime, 
To  great  Augustus,  he  whose  waving  hair 
Was  thrice  in  triumph  wrcath'd  with  laurel  green, 
How  Rome  hath  of  her  blood  still  lavish  been 
To  right  the  woes  of  many  an  injured  land; 
And  shall  she  now  be  slow, 
Her  gratitude,  her  piety  to  shew? 
In  Christian  zeal  to  buckle  on  the  brand, 
For  Mary's  glorious  Son  to  deal  the  blow? 
What  ills  the  impious  foemen  must  betide 
Who  trust  in  mortal  hand, 
If  Christ  himself  lead  on  the  adverse  side  ? 

And  turn  thy  thoughts  to  Xerxes'  rash  emprize, 
Who  dared,  in  haste  to  tread  our  Europe's  shore, 
Insult  the  sea  with  bridge,  and  strange  caprice; 
And  thou  shall  see  for  husbands  then  no  more 


324  TRANSLATIONS 

Tutte  vestite  a  brun  le  donne  Perse 

E  tinto  in  rosso  il  mar  di  Salamina : 

E  non  pur  questa  misera  ruina 

Del  popolo  infelice  d'oriente 

Vittoria  ten'  promette, 

Ma  Maratona  e  le  mortali  strette 

Che  difese  il  Leon  con  poca  gente, 

Ed  altre  mille  c'hai  scoltate  e  lette. 

Perche  inchinar  a  Dio  molto  conviene 

Le  ginocchia  e  la  mente, 

Che  gli  anni  tuoi  riserva  a  tanto  bene. 

Tu  vedra'  Italia  e  1'  onorata  riva, 
Canzon,  ch'agli  occhi  miei  cela  o  contende 
Non  mar,  non  poggio,  o  fiume ; 
Ma  solo  amor,  che  del  suo  altero  lume 
Piu  m'invaghisce  dove  piu  m'incende: 
Nfe  natura  puo  star  contra '1  costume. 
Or  movi,  non  smarrir  1' altre  compagne; 
Ch£  non  pur  sotto  bende 
Alberga  Amor,  per  cui  si  ride  e  piagne. 


FROM  PETRARCH.  32/5 

The  Persian  matrons  robed  in  mournful  guise, 

And  dyed  with  blood  the  seas  of  Salarnis. 

Nor  sole  example  this: 

(The  ruin  of  that  Eastern  king's  design), 

That  tells  of  vict'ry  nigh: 

See  Marathon,  and  stern  Thermopylae, 

Closed  by  those  few,  and  chieftain  leonine, 

And  thousand  deeds  that  blaze  in  history. 

Then  bow  in  thankfulness  both  heart  and  knee 

Before  His  holy  shrine, 

Who  such  bright  guerdon  hath  reserved  for  thee. 

Thou  shall  see  Italy,  and  that  honour'd  shore, 
O  song!   a  land  debarred  and  hid  from  me 
By  neither  flood  nor  hill! 
But  Love  alone,  whose  power  hath  virtue  still 
To  witch,  though  all  his  wiles  be  vanity, 
Nor  Nature  to  avoid  the  snare  hath  skill. 
Go,  bid  thy  sisters  hush  their  jealous  fears, 
For  other  loves  there  be 
Than  that  blind  boy,  who  causeth  smiles  and  tears. 


LONDON 

PRINTED   BY   S.   AND   R.  BF.NTLEY,   DORSET  STREKT. 


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